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Major-General R. S. S. BADEN-POWELL, C.B. 


Dryden House, 43 Gerrard Street, London, W. 






Our Hands i 


Symmetry, Asymmetry, and One-sidedness ... 20 


Theories of One-handedness 41 


Disadvantages of One-handedness 99 


The Possibility of Ambidexterity 108 


The Advantages of Ambidexterity ... .120 


Objections to Ambidexterity 150 

The Philosophy of Simultaneous Movement, . . 170 






Ambidexterity Culture or Bimanual Training . . 195 


Ambidextral Handwriting 206 


Ambidextral Drawing, etc 226 


Two-handedness in Handicrafts and Trades . . 235 

List of Occupations, Trades, and Sports wherein Ambidex- 
terity is a Distinct Gain or an Essential Factor . . 239 


Ambidexterity and Legislation 243 

Appendix 247 

Index 253 


Astley, Rev. H. J. Dukinfield, M.A. (Correspondence) . . 1902 

Baden-Powell, Major-General (Correspondence) . . . 1902 

Baldwin, Prof. J. M. (" Origin of Right-handedness") . . 1892 

Ball, Professor ("Scribner") 1891 

Barclay, Dr 1862 

Bastian, Dr. H. Charlton (" Aphasia and other Speech 

Defects") 1898 

Ditto (" The Brain as an Organ of Mind") . . . 1880 

Bateman, Dr. F. (" Aphasia") 1869 

Bell, Sir Charles (" The Hand, Its Mechanism ") . . . 1874 

Blandford, G. Fielding, M.D. ("Insanity") .... 1897 

Borham, Mr. W. H, ("Lancet") 1871 

Broadbent, Dr 1871 

Brodie, Sir B., M.D. (" A.T.Y.R.") 1 889 

Browne, Sir Thomas, M.D. (" Trans. Med. & Chir. Soc") . 1871 
Brown-Sequard, Dr. C. E. ("Have we Two Brains or 

One?") . . . 1890 

Buchanan, Dr. A. (" Mechanical Theory, &c.") . . . 1862 

Cahall, Dr. W. E. (" Why are we Right-handed ? ") . . 1886 
Carter, Dr. W. E. ("Operative Ophthalmic Surgery") . 1872 — 1893 

Carter, Mr. R. Brudenell (" Lancet ") 1872 

Charcot, Dr. J. M. ("Aphasia, the Varieties of") . . . 1883 

Chudleigh, Mr. (" Right and Left Brainedness ") . . . 1885 

Comby, Jules, M.D. (" Diseases of Children ") . . . 1897 

Conte, Mr. J. Le (" Nature ") 18S4 

Cunningham, Prof. D. J. (" Right-handedness and Left- 

brainedness ") 1902 

Darwin, Dr. G. H 1884 

Dwight, Dr. (" What is Right-handedness?") . . . 1891 

Erlenmeyer, Dr. (" All the Year Round ") .... 1889 

" F.R.C.S." (" British Medical Journal") .... 1885 

Ferrier, Dr. D. (" Functions of the Brain ") .... 1876 
Garson, Dr, J. G. (" Inequality in Length of Lower 

Limbs") 1884 

Gowers, Sir W. R., M.D. (" The Use of Words, &c.") . 1896— 1902 



Hadden, Dr. W. B. {" Transposition of the Viscera ") . . 1890 

Hawksley, Mr. Th. (" Nature ") 1884 

Hitchcock, Dr. (" Scribner ") 1891 

Hollis, Dr. (" Lopsided Generations") 1875 

Humphrey, Dr. {" The Human Hand ") 1861 

Hyrtl, Dr. (" Right-handedness ") 1875 

Jackson, Dr. J, H. (" Hemispherical Co-ordination ") . . 1868 

Larden, Mr. W. (" Nature") 1884 

Lees, Dr. (" Transposition of the Viscera ") .... 1876 

Lithgow, Dr. R. A. (" Lancet ") 1870 

Lundie, Dr. R. A. (" Left -handedness ") 1896 

McLauchlan, Dr. R 1884 

Meyer, Mr. (" Left -handedness") 1871 

Ogle, Dr. W. (" Dextral Pre-eminence ") .... 1871 

Poore, Dr. G. V. (" Nervous Affections of the Hand ") . . 1897 

Prentice, Dr. Chalmer (" The Eye ") 1895 

Pye-Smith, Dr. (" Left-handedness ") 1871 

Rae, Mr. John (" Nature ") 1884 

Rollett, Dr. ("Scribner") 1891 

Savory, Mr. (" Lancet ") 1871 

Sawyer, Sir James, M.D. (" British Medical Journal ") . . 1900 
Seguin, E. (" Idiocy and its Treatment by the Physiological 

Method") 1866 

Ditto ("New Facts and Remarks Concerning Idiocy") . 1870 

Shaw, Dr. James (Correspondence) 1902 

Shaw, Mr. James (" Right-handedness ")• . . . . 1881 

Simpson, Mr. W. J. (" Nature ") 1884 

Smith, Mr. E. Noble (" Ambidexterity") .... 1903 

Ditto (Correspondence) 1887 — 1903 

Snell, Mr. Simeon, F.R.C.S. (" Eyesight and School 

Life") 1895 

Sollier, Paul A., M.D. (" Idiocy ") 1897 

Solly, Mr. Samuel, F.R.S. (" The Human Brain ") . . 1847 

Struthers, Sir John, M.D. (" Relative Weight of Viscera ") . 1863 

Tadd, Mr. J. L. (" New Methods in Education") . . . 1899 

Taylor, Dr. Seymour ("Lancet") 1891 

Vogt, Mr. Carl (" Writing Physiologically Considered ") . 1S81 

Wharton, Mr. H. F. ("Nature") 1884 

Wigan, Dr. A. L. (" The Duality of the Mind ") . . . 1844 

Wilks, Sir Samuel, M.D. (Correspondence) .... 1903 

Wilson, Sir Daniel (" Right-handedness") . . . . 1873 

Ditto ("Left-handedness") 1891 

Wyeth, Dr. J. A. (" British Medical Journal ") . . . 1880 


Having long been accustomed to write with either hand 
and to use the two hands interchangeably, I am quite in 
sympathy with the object of this Treatise. 

To train the human body completely and symmetrically, 
that is, to cultivate all its organs and members to their 
utmost capacity, in order that its functions may also attain 
their maximum development, is an obligation that cannot 
safely be ignored. This completeness and symmetry can 
only be secured by an equal attention to, and exercise of, 
both sides of the body — the right and the left ; and this 
two-sided growth can alone be promoted and matured by 
educating our two hands equally, each in precisely the 
same way, and exactly to the same extent. 

It is hardly possible to lay too much stress upon this 
bimanual training, or to attach too much importance to 
the principle, because our hands — and our arms, from 
which, for purposes both of argument and education, they 
cannot be separated — not only constitute our chief medium 
of communication with the outer world, but they are like- 
wise the pre-eminent agency by which we stamp our 
impress upon it. Moreover, and of equal import to the 
individual, it is by the movements of these members that 
the whole muscular tissues on both sides of the body are 
exercised, strengthened, and perfected. 

Passing from general considerations to particular ap- 
plications, the argument is equally strong and the advan- 
tage equally great. There is no doubt that the value of 
Ambidexterity from a military point of view is immense. 



I do not consider a man is a thoroughly trained soldier 
unless he can mount equally well on either side of his 
horse, use the sword, pistol, and lance, equally well with 
both hands, and shoot off the left shoulder as rapidly and 
accurately as from the right. 

The heavy pressure of my office work makes me wish 
that I had cultivated, in my youth, the useful art of writ- 
ing on two different subjects at once. I get through a 
great deal extra — it is true — by using the right and left 
hand alternately, but I thoroughly appreciate how much 
more can be done by using them both together. 

I wish this Ambidextral campaign every success. 







Ambidexterity is not a new discovery : it is as old as 
man himself. The first man, it will be conceded, was a 
" bidexter," or "ambidexter," both by conformation and ^Jf f 
by use, for it is impossible to imagine that he was brought ^^^^^^'^ 
into existence with an instinctive right-handedness already 
inKerent in his being. And since the first pair of truly ^j^^^ 
bimanous creatures revelled in their two-handed dexterity, _>jL_ - 
there have never ceased to be, at all times, but scattered ^•'**^ 
possibly here and there over the face of the earth, worthy 
representatives of the parent stock ; ambidexters of no 
mean ability — as, for example, the 700 Benjamite slingers 
— who were able to demonstrate in actual life the great 
difference between a two-handed and a one-handed 

As we know, various philosophers have, ever and anon, 
referred to the question, and Plato, Aristotle, and others 
of like fame, have expressed themselves more or less at 
length concerning it. They evidently recognized and 
deplored the incongruity and lamentable inconvenience of 
the lopsidedness that prevailed throughout the community; 




and doubtless many of these sages made earnest efforts to 
advocate and promote the cultivation of Ambidexterity 
amongst the people; but, so far as we know, those attempts, 
owing to the apathy, superstition, or opposition which 
they met with, were as invariably unsuccessful. 

One would naturally infer, since all attempts to establish 
two-handedness have hitherto signally failed, and failed 
moreover in some cases notwithstanding the most strenu- 
ous advocacy of its professed merits and superiority, that 
the so-called advantages which have been so frequently 
and enthusiastically expounded must be purely imaginary, 
and that there really is no virtue whatever in a perfect 
two-handedness, but that it is far better to have a dexter 
and a sinistral hand (in other words, a useful and a use- 
less hand) rather than two dexter or equally expert and 
useful hands, similarly adapted for all the ordinary and 
extraordinary duties of life. 

Indeed the argument from general history would seem 
to be so absolutely final as to render any venture to 
establish the desirability of a dextral supremacy a most 
presumptuous act bordering on unpardonable audacity : 
yet the author is so conscious and convinced of that 
virtue and of those merits as to challenge the verdict of 
history, the customs of society, and the deeply rooted 
prejudices of an overwhelming majority, by proclaiming 
once more, with no uncertain voice, and in the plainest of 
terms, the mistake of a one-handed community, the 
inferiority and disadvantage of a sinistral hand, and 
the obligation which, in his opinion, rests upon us to 
discontinue the neglect of the left hand and to substitute 
a systematic, and wholly impartial, cultivation of the two 
hands for all the exigencies and demands of every-day life. 

How far he is justified in his ambition and convictions 
the following chapters will perhaps determine. The 
subject might easily be committed to far abler hands, but 
he is confident that it could not have a more sincerely 
enthusiastic advocate. 



We are not aware that any book has yet been published in 
which Ambidexterity is treated generally and exhaustively. 
Occasional letters to medical and other journals have 
appeared from time to time during the last forty or fifty 
years, in which the most varied and often contradictory 
statements have been put forward ; and a few learned 
monographs — consisting chiefly of contributions read before 
scientific and other associations — have discussed moot 
points with more or less completeness ; but in the majority 
of instances the business of the writers has been to elaborate 
particular or personal views or theories to account for the 
predominance of the right hand, or for the occasional 
development of its opposite, left-handedness. In no case 
has an author started out with the object of treating 
Ambidexterity as a desideratum to be worked for, and to 
be secured, so that it shall be established in society as an 
integral part of our education and being. 

The author has availed himself of these articles, from 
which much valuable information and many important 
statistics have been derived ; he therefore takes this 
opportunity of gratefully acknowledging his indebtedness 
to them. Moreover it has been found necessary to review 
somewhat fully many of the hypotheses formulated by the 
learned writers referred to, in order to establish or refute 
their pronouncements, as the argument of this book might 

That a practical work on Ambidextral Development and 
Bimanual Training is urgently required goes without say- 
ing ; and this volume is intended, be it in ever so humble 
a degree, to supply that need ; its main purpose being, 
First, to consider the existing state of things, and the 
relative powers, functions, and duties of the two hands — 
the right and the left— as at present determined by educa- 
tion and custom. Second, to present in a compact form 
all the theories that, from time to time, have been suggested 
to account for the universal one-handedness — really the 
universal right-handedness— that obtains. Third, to 



discuss the possibility and the advisability of cultivating 
Ambidexterity as an essential factor and element of our 
National Education : and fourth, to briefly indicate how 
this consummation may best be brought about. 

Ambidexterity is so closely associated and identified 
with other branches of educational work in which the 
writer has been engaged for quite a number of years, that 
it has necessarily become incorporated with them, and has 
consequently been studied and practised alongside with 
Handwriting and Drawing, — the two most intellectual and 
important exercises that can occupy our hands at any time. 
There need be no apology, therefore, for devoting a 
separate chapter to each of those subjects. 

It is very encouraging, and matter for congratulation, 
that the twentieth century inaugurates a more favourable 
environment, and brings with it a much more advanced 
liberalism, and a spirit of earnest inquiry regarding the 
proposed innovation ; for we have a by no means insigni- 
ficant minority of intelligent thinkers, both within and 
without the teaching profession, who are really desirous 
and determined to bring in the element of Bimanual 
Instruction, and to make it a fundamental part of our 
school routine, at any rate with a limited number of 
ordinary class subjects. 

So far as they go, this ambition and resolution are most 
praiseworthy, but of course the proposed reformation does 
not go nearly far enough ; hence those who take a broader 
view of the question are devoting all their energies to the 
propagation of an unlimited and all-pervading scheme 
of two-handedness that shall not be confined to any 
specified number of subjects ; but a system that shall 
include all branches and all departments wherever the 
employment of the two hands (separately or simulta- 
neously) could possibly come in. 

Naturally, then, the one grand object of these pages is to 
encourage and effect this most desirable revolution ; for 
the author firmly believes in the possibility of evolving a 



truly two-handed people, that shall be many stages in 
advance of existing standards both in physical and mental 

The hand may be said to be, physically, the distinctive 
characteristic of mankind. It is the chief organ of touch 
and of gesture language, its expressiveness and teaching 
power being alike unique. It is the universal symbol of 
amity, the mystic grasp of the freemason, being older than 
the builder's art, it is said. It is a weapon equally of 
defence and offence, and indeed it may be considered the 
most wonderful piece of animal mechanism — its mobility, 
sensibility, agility and adaptability are unequalled. 

Many writers have sung its praises, to wit Sir Charles 
Bell: — "The human hand is so beautifully framed, it 
has so fine a sensibility, that sensibility governs its actions 
so correctly, every effort of the will is answered so 
instantly, as if the hand itself were the seat of that will ; 
its actions are so powerful, so free and yet so delicate, as 
if it possessed the quality of instinct in itself, that there 
is no thought of its complexity as an instrument or of the 
relations which make it subservient to the mind ; we use 
it as we draw our breath, unconsciously, and have lost all 
recollection of the feeble and ill-directed efforts of its 
exercise by which it has been perfected. Is it not the 
very perfection of the instrument which makes us insensi- 
ble to its use ? " 

Sir Daniel Wilson : — " The human hand, as an 
instrument of constructive ingenuity and artistic skill, 
stands wholly apart from all the organs applied to the 
production of analogous workmanship among the lower 
animals. Man only, in any strict sense, is a manu- 

And Professor Ball : — " Man is the first of the animals 
— not, as the philosopher of the last century said, because 
he possesses a hand, but rather that he has a right hand. 
I consider the preponderance of the right hand not as the 
cause of the superiority of man, but as the immediate 



consequence, as the most eminent sign, of his moral pre- 

We have quoted Professor Ball, although we differ with 
his finding, agreeing rather with the two previous writers. 

A well-shaped hand is a thing of beauty and a joy for 
ever ; and to a wonderful extent it is an index to the 
character of its possessor. The palmist assures us that 
even the veil of the future can be partially lifted by a study 
of the lines on its inner surface. Be this as it may, our 
hands are a precious possession, and it behoves us to treat 
them well and to spare no pains in cultivating their powers 
to the furthermost limit. 

Our two hands, then, are and have been for untold gene- 
rations, distinguished by the terms " right " and " left " or 
' ' dexter " and " sinister, " according to the side of the body on 
which they are found. The right hand is the dexter hand 
in some ninet5'-seven cases out of every loo in or amongst 
English-speaking nations. What we mean by this state- 
ment is that there exists a marked and material difference 
or contrast between the skill, delicacy and sensitiveness 
as exhibited by the two hands in the adult ; one hand, 
almost always the right, being much superior to the other 
in all manipulative skill, the left being indeed so awkward 
— and being generally considered so inferior — as to give 
even to its name *' Sinistral " a signification embracing 
everything that is undesirable, and a synonym in general 
for gaucherie. Even at this early stage it must be 
clearly remembered that this superiority is, in about 
eighty out of the ninety-seven cases quoted, not a natural 
phenomenon, but is almost exclusively the result of, what 
we feel compelled to term, a mistaken and perverted 

From earliest infancy, when the hands are first put into 
natural exercise and first used in rational movement, the 
object of the nurse, of the mother, and of all intimate 
friends of "the baby,'' is to suppress every and any 
indication of an intelligent or free use of the left hand, and 



to encourage the sole exclusive and skilful development of 
the right hand with all its powers. 

Now we read in a certain well-known book of a shepherd 
who, missing one sheep out of a hundred, left the ninety 
and nine safeguarded and went to find the one that was 
lost. And one would think that if one leg, one ear or one 
eye of a child were to show signs of diminished vigour, 
hearing, or sight, the first object of the parent would 
be to ascertain the root of the " mischief!" as he would 
call it, remove the cause, and thus restore the enfeebled 
member or organ to its original normal condition, equal 
in all respects to its fellow. But what do we see with 
regard to the hands ? Nothing less than a deliberate, 
regularly recognized, and systematic, cold-blooded crip- 
pling of the left member from the tenderest age up to the 
very end of school-life. We are sent into the world with 
two hands exactly similar in conformation and constitu- 
tion, and both equally fitted and qualified to perform 
manual labour of every variety and kind. Yet, because 
our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers did it, we, 
princes, peers, peasants and physicians, surgeons, educa- 
tionalists and teachers, fathers, mothers, sisters and 
brothers, all combine to crush every bit of elasticity, 
sensitiveness, mobility, and dexterity out of that horrid 
left hand/' and to make it what we find it at the present 
day, viz. an undeveloped, awkward, and almost totally 
useless limb — to be tolerated as a superfluous appendage 
rather than cultivated as a priceless treasure ! Oh ! the 
pity of it ! If any reader think this description rather too 
strong, let him, if a right-handed man, bind up his right 
hand for a week (or even three days would suffice to con- 
vince him) with the resolve to use his left for everything, 
and on no account to liberate and use his right. He will 
nearly succumb to chagrin and mortification before twenty- 
four hours have expired, and be inclined to anathematize 
the " System of Education " or the State of Society (or 
both) that imposes such an insane and unnecessary 



infliction as an " untaught " hand upon mankind. Is it 
not true that, so far as the hands are concerned, the chief 
feature of civiHzation is the increasingly pre-eminent use 
of the right hand ; or the special cultivation and develop- 
ment of the dexter hand, whilst the left or sinister hand is 
relegated to a persistent neglect and a wholly inferior 
position ? Indeed, unless for the purpose of a particular 
occupation or function, the left hand never receives any 
EDUCATION AT ALL, but is actually repressed whenever it 
attempts to assert its equality with the right, and to take 
its proper share in the daily duties of life. 

When denouncing this system of oppression, neglect, 
and cruelty, we are frequently met with the reply, '* Oh ! 
but the right hand is so much more amenable to training 
and instruction, so much more responsive to influence 
and pressure " ; and one is apt to spontaneously reply, 
" Naturally so ! yes, and inevitably so ! how could it pos- 
sibly be otherwise?" First you subject one hand to say 
ten years of ignominious obloquy, inactivity, and utter 
neglect, and then, after bestowing the most refined 
culture and attention upon the other hand, you exclaim 
in pious surprise, ' See how much superior this right 
hand is in every manual accomplishment ! ! ! Observe ! 
how utterly inferior and incapable this left hand is in 
every necessary occupation ! ! ! ' " 

Strictly, however, the charge is untrue, for the awkward- 
ness is only such as is met with also in the dexter hand, 
i.e. during youth time, when any quite novel exercise, 
movement, or duty is required of it. This statement will 
be fully proved by an abundance of facts at a later stage 
in the argument. 

It should be noted at this point how such an unnatural 
treatment of the left hand reacts upon the offenders. Is 
there a single one of us that has not frequently felt, and 
does not continually feel, the disadvantage of being so 
lopsided, so unsymmetrical, so unequally developed, so 
imperfectly educated in modern times ? We admit that 



it is highly improbable, if not actually impossible, for a 
perfectly Ambidextrous people — nay, a perfectly Ambi- 
dextrous person — to ever have an existence ; just as it is 
impossible for a person to have two eyes exactly the 
same in powers of vision, two ears with precisely the 
same acuteness of hearing, and two feet with precisely 
the same powers of walking and standing. 

We feel quite convinced that the tendency will ever be 
to foster a preferential use of the right hand (for a variety 
of reasons, which will be detailed or indicated in a sub- 
sequent chapter), and our contention, as ardent Ambi- 
dextral advocates, is not that it should be otherwise. 

Of every hundred persons born into the world, some 
seventeen are strongly right-handed congenitally (i.e. 
without restraint of the one hand or any cultivation of 
the other) ; nearly three will be just as strongly left- 
handed ; whilst the remaining eighty are naturally 
either-handed, and these eighty, with the proper in- 
struction, would develop both hands equally, and become 
practically, and to the extent above outlined, perfectly 
two-handed or Ambidextrous. 

Brazilian ladies do now, or did until just recentty, 
mount the horse from the right side and sit on the same 
side whilst riding, instead of on the left side, as is the 
custom with most Eastern nations. Our own ladies are 
much more accustomed to use the left hand than we of 
the stronger sex are. In piano-playing and in various 
kinds of house-work, needlework, and personal exercises 
the left hand is brought into constant requisition, so that 
a considerable dexterity with the sinistral hand is a sort 
of natural heritage and possession of womankind in 

Generally, then, one-handedness is the only existing form 
of dexterity. This one-handedness is divided, roughly 
speaking, amongst the race in the proportion of ninety-six 
or ninety-seven right-handed persons to three or four left- 
handed persons, the latter being the only individuals, save 



in one or two districts above-mentioned, who possess any 
sensible degree of ambidextral skill for all occupations or 
work. One of our most distinguished surgeons remarks 
in a letter under date January 6th, 1903 : " In those days 
of my youth ridicule was resorted to in discouragement 
of left-handedness — those who were left-handed were 
looked upon as somewhat ' daft ; ' " and generally now-a- 
days the same feeling prevails, for left-handed persons are 
pitied, sympathized with, and looked down upon as being 
very unfortunate, nay more, as considerably inferior to 
their right-handed brethren, who curiously enough pride 
themselves on the possession of a Sinistral Hand that, 
as compared or contrasted with its Dextral fellow-hand, 
is incompetent, clums}^, unreliable, and, in every mani- 
pulative and mechanical relation or exercise. Wholly 
Inefficient ! ! ! 

It is very singular that in so many occupations the 
left hand is cultivated and used, notwithstanding the 
widespread and active opposition and aversion to its 
development. Thus a man will handle the razor quite as 
skilfully with the left hand as with the right, and this is an 
operation that demands the most delicate manipulation, 
if very awkward accidents are to be avoided. Many 
clean-shaven men known to the writer use the razor in 
either hand with perfectly equal dexterity and confidence, 
yet they are not left-handed in the slightest degree as 
left-handedness is understood ; so that this only proves 
how unconsciously a person may acquire ambidextral 
aptitude in even the most difficult and exacting functions 
and employments, without encountering exceptional or 
insurmountable obstacles, and without being conscious of 
doing anything at all unusual or remarkable. Similarly 
most tailors and dressmakers use the scissors with both 
hands, and with apparently the same ease and skill : 
engravers in like manner with the graving tool, sculptors 
and stone-cutters with the chisel, and draughtsmen with 
the pencil or instrument. 



Another surprising phase of the question is that when 
a billiard-player, a conjurer, a gymnast, a harpist, a 
juggler, a machinist, an organist, a pianist, or a wood- 
carver uses his left hand as deftly as his right, the 
observer seems never to be impressed with the triumph 
of the left hand over all its cruelly imposed disabilities, so 
as to ask, " How is it that you have got your left hand to 
such a marvellous state of perfect skill ? " but the excep- 
tional ability is lost sight of in admiration at the general 
and dual cleverness displayed by the performer. Still 
more strange is it that the beholder seldom if ever goes 
on to inquire why the left hand is not trained in a similar 
manner to perform equally efficiently every duty and 
function that are allocated to the right. 

Is it not a most mysterious and inexplicable fact, that, 
although people have for centuries been witnesses of the 
value of the two hands working together with equal 
dexterity in some few particular vocations, they have 
never appeared to recognize the much greater, nay, the 
inestimable, value of a universal two-handedness ? We 
do not wish to trench on the province of a future chapter 
or to anticipate any subsequent argument in our treat- 
ment of this interesting subject, but it does seem one of 
the most amazing phenomena in history, this undisturbed 
inertia and passive indifference on the part of the public 
— more especially the educated public — in connection with 
such an all-important issue. 

It would appear that a larger proportion of persons 
were capable of using their left hand in preference to 
their right in the earliest historical periods than exist at 
the present time, for we find abundant evidence of a 
widespread use of the left hand not only in the sculptured 
hieroglyphics of Central America, but also in the Mexican 
Picture Writings, where the human profiles are frequently 
turned to the right. In like manner, many of the oldest 
sketches and drawings on rocks indicate left-handed 
artists. Indeed it is generally admitted that whilst right- 



handedness prevailed amongst the palgeolithic flint 
workers, there existed along with it no small amount of 
left-handedness. The Rev. H. J. Dukinfield Astley, 
Litt.D., F.R.Hist.S., writes me that : — " It is very 
difficult to prove anything as to the Ambidexterity of 
either Palaeolithic or Neolithic man, because both these 
used stone implements fastened to wooden hafts — spears, 
arrows, axes, &c. But within recent years evidence has 
arisen as to the existence of an older race still, to whom 
the name of ' Eolithic ' has been given. Evidence of 
the existence of this race in Britain has been found by 
Mr. Harrison in and above Ightham in Kent, on the 
plateau about 400 to 800 feet above sea level. They are 
therefore called ' Plateau Implements,' and are pre- 
Glacial, proving that the Eolithic race inhabited Britain 
before the Glacial period — some authorities say 80,000 
years ago, but in any case many thousands ; while 
Palaeolithic man was post-Glacial, and Neolithic man, of 
the Siberian race, was here till he was overwhelmed by 
the Goideli-Celtic invasions from 2,000 to 1,500 B.C., and 
his blood still runs in our veins. 

" Now the Eolithic people were, as must naturally be 
expected, in the very rudest condition of primitive 
savagery, and their flint instruments were fashioned to be 
used in the hand ; of these there is undoubted evidence 
that some were adapted for right-hand, some for left- 
hand use. Mr. Quick, Curator of the Horniman Museum, 
thus writes : — ' Some students believe that these imple- 
ments are accidental forms of flint, or are found under 
certain conditions of nature. But when one sees and 
handles a great number of the specimens, some chipped 
for the left as well as for the right hand use, I think the 
natural or accidental theory must fall to the ground.' 

" Early man did not consider form of any importance ; 
two objects alone presented themselves to his simple 
intelligence, a hand-grip and a usable edged tool. He 
worked with both hands, as we know by the left-handed 



forms being almost or quite as numerous as the right." 
(Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 
vol. Ivi. pp. 336 and 340.) 

Similarly, the drawings of Europe's Cave-men exhibit 
the same admixture of right and left handed craftsmen, 
the right hand, however, always predominating over the 
left. In the absence of all semblance of education, one 
might easily deduce such a state of things as the inevi- 
table outcome of a barbarous age ; for, without anticipa- 
tion, we cannot evade recognizing the fact of existing 
natural preference for the right hand, which seems to 
have preserved an almost unvarying career from the 
remotest times up to the present day. As time rolled on, 
and in fact all through the dark ages of barbarism and 
incipient civilization, the right-handedness became more 
pronounced, i.e. the distinction between the two hands 
became more marked, and all to the advantage of the 
right member. So far, then, as the evidence of language 
and history goes, the superiority of the right hand seems 
to be coeval with the earliest known use of speech. 

Coming further down the stream of time, it is found 
that, particularly amongst the Hebrews and throughout 
Bible ages, the dextral limb has been singled out for 
special honour. The Scriptures themselves contain 
some 100 references to the right hand, and sixty 
references to the left, the dexter hand being always 
made the type or symbol of everything noble, praise- 
worthy, or desirable. 

Right and left hands are first mentioned in Genesis 
xiii. g. What wonder then, if, with such apparent 
Divine approval and such inspired authority, Right- 
handedness spread rapidly and became, practically, 
universal ? We say practically, for it must not be for- 
gotten that amongst men of war in the tribe of Benjamin, 
were 700 left-handed slingers who "could sling stones 
to a hair's breadth and not miss ; " and, also, that 
amongst the " mighty men, helpers of the war" to King 



David, were large numbers who " were armed with bows," 
and who " could use both the right hand and the left 
in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow." As 
the number and variety of Bible quotations on the right 
hand are of great interest, a selection of the most impor- 
tant is here given, that the reader may the better appreciate 
the educative power of such a collection : — 
















Sitting on the Right Hand of power (Mark xiv. 62). 
Benjamin, the son of the Right Hand (Gen. xxxv. 18). 
Let my Right Hand forget her cunning (Ps. cxxxvii. 5). 
The years of the Right Hand of the Most High 

(Ps. l.xxvii. 10). 
The Right Hands of fellowship (Gal. ii. 9). 
Thy Right Hand, O Lord, is become glorious 

(E.xod. XV. 6). 
He had in His Right Hand seven stars (Rev. i. 16). 
Led them by the Right Hand of Moses (Isa. Ixiii. 12). 
Thy Right Hand is full of righteousness (Ps. xlviii. 10). 
Thy Right Hand shall teach thee (Ps. xlv. 4). 
The Lord hath sworn by His Right Hand (Isa. Ixii. S)- 
The vineyard which Thy Right Hand hath planted 

(Ps. Ixxx. 15). 
From His Right Hand went a fiery Law for them 

(Deut. xxxiii. 2). 
Length of days is in her Right Hand (Prov. iii. 16). 
Thy Right Hand hath spread out the heavens 

(Isa. xlviii. 13). 
Sat on the Right Hand of God (Mark xv. 9). 
At Thy Right Hand there are pleasures for evermore 

(Ps. xvi. 11). 

At the Right Hand of the poor to save him 
(Ps. cix. 31). 

He is at my Right Hand, I shall not be moved 
(Ps. .xvi. 8). 

The Salvation of His Right Hand (Eccl. x. 2). 
The saving strength of His Right Hand (Ps. xx. 6). 
Thy Right Hand shall hold me (Ps. cxxxix. 10). 
The Right Hand of the Lord doeth valiantly 

(Ps. cxviii. 16). 
Thy Right Hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the 

enemy (Exod. xv. 6). 



Victory. His Right Hand hath gotten Him the victory 

(Ps. xcviii. i). 

Wealth. His Right Hand hath purchased (Ps. Ixxviii. 54). 

The reader will observe how the right hand is associated 
with every virtue, every honourable quality, and almost 
every conceivable good. It is conclusive evidence that in 
Bible times the right hand was quite as pre-eminent as it 
is at the present day, and that the left hand was just as 
inferior and insignificant, although the trend of custom 
and education has been all along the centuries from then 
till now to accentuate the cultivation of the one and to 
repress the development of the " poor unfortunate other. 
But, indeed, long before the close of Bible times, the 
distinction between the two hands had arrived at its 
maturity, and, so far as preferential use is concerned, we 
are no further forward than were our forefathers in the 
first year of the Christian Era. 

Certainly we are not in any degree cleverer with the 
right hand than we were, if we are to judge by their 
sculpture, architecture, paintings, and illuminations, for 
in nearly all these departments they are our superiors. It 
is, however, more than probable that two-handedness 
prevails to a less extent amongst the various handicrafts, 
trades, and professions of the present day than it did in 
those medicEval times of which we are speaking. From 
the time of Noah until now there has undoubtedly been an 
uninterrupted preference for, and cultivation of, the dexter 
hand, but the hand seems really to have lost its cunning 
in these modern times if the comparison of human pro- 
ductions is to decide the question. Where shall we find 
a second " Book of Kells " in intricacy and beauty of 
design ? Is this, then, an argument, and if true a very 
powerful one, for the superiority of Bimanual training ? 
And are we not justified in saying that when the human 
race were to a greater degree Ambidextrous, they were 
also more capable of achieving greatness in all branches 
of Art, Science, and Literature ? 



Careful investigation into this question might discover 
unexpected relations and facts that would, if not once 
and for all decide the controversy, at least go far towards 
a final settlement of the agitation, and prove quite 
sufficient to warrant general conclusions of a very weighty 

There are few subjects about which more nonsense has 
been talked than that of right-handedness and left-handed- 
ness. For centuries it has exercised the minds of not a 
few curious, observant, and philosophical individuals, but 
it is during the last hundred years specially that the 
interest has increased and the literature multiplied so 
rapidly. Whilst in the scientific and professional depart- 
ments, more or less learned theses have successively 
appeared from the pens of earnest and thoughtful writers, 
containing valuable statistics, experience, or other 
pertinent information shedding light upon some obscure 
point or phenomenon ; others, who have devoted little 
time to the study, have advanced all sorts of ex-parte 
statements and premature conclusions which have col- 
lapsed before the feeblest criticism, proving more harmful 
than helpful to the cause they were intended to support or 
strengthen. One would suppose, to read the indignant 
protests and deliberate statements of these latter writers, 
that the right hand was a member endowed with a special 
anatomical apparatus, with superior articulations, and 
with a particularly gifted intelligence to control and direct 
its movements. 

Indeed so much has its dominating influence been 
exaggerated by these exponents that we are led to suppose 
it has been by far the most powerful factor in .the re- 
generation and development of the human race, from 
primeval times to the present day. In fact we are told by 
the enthusiasts referred to, that no one can really be 
clever unless he be right-handed; that all the brightest 
pupils are the most emphatically right-handed ; that the 
greatest intellect and the greatest dextral pre-eminence 



are invariably associated together ; that the most civiHzed 
nations are the most strongly right-handed ; and lastly, 
that it is only in idiots and criminals that there is any 
reversion to original type in the form of a greater or less 
development of Ambidextral skill. In brief, the history of 
civilization is merely the history of right-handedness. 

In another part of this volume the whole question is 
fully dealt with from the theoretical standpoint ; but the 
assertion or assumption is so sweeping in its character 
that a more practical reply may here be given in so far as 
the subject relates to "Cleverest Pupils " and "Brightest 

Having written to a number of head masters and 
mistresses of public schools, asking for information regard- 
ing their boys and girls, we are enabled to place before 
our readers some valuable evidence bearing on the dis- 
cussion. There was little if any difference of opinion. 
The testimony was practically unanimous. 

No. I. " We have twenty boys, in a school of 680, who 
are left-handed. I do not find any difference as to 
intelligence, but the highest boys in the school are 

No. 2. " I believe all my boys are right-handed ; the 
' cleverest pupils ' certainly are, and so are the stupidest. 
But I have often noticed that children use the left 
naturally and are checked. On inquiry I find that one 
or more boys are Ambidextrous, but not the specially 
clever ones. Rather the good practical boy with common 
sense. One of the first boy athletes I knew at school, 
was so." 

No. 3. In this very large school, the head master took 
special pains in the inquiry, and proposed the follow- 
ing three questions to twelve " boys at the head of 
the classical side — mostly classical and mathematical 
scholars " : — 

" I. Can you write with the left hand ? i.e. better 
than most people can ? 




" 2. Do you do anything (e.g. bat, bowl, or brush 
your teeth) with the left hand, which most people 
do with the right ? 

" 3. Have you any reason to think you are more 
right-handed than ordinary people? " 

The " captain of school, first mathematical scholar 
of Caius College, Cambridge, is practically Ambidextrous," 
but the remaining eleven answered " No " to the third 
question ; all but one (No. 4, a " classical scholar of 
Trinity College, Cambridge,") answered " No " to the 
second question ; and all but two, the above No. 4 and 
another, answered " No " to the first. 

Five other boys tested by a (D.Sc.) member of the large 
and distinguished staff in this successful public school 
proved to be absolutely normal with no pronounced 
" Dextral Pre-eminence, and gave a negative answer in 
each case to all three questions ; the only reservations being 
that No. I kicks better with his left foot ; No. 2 thinks 
that he can use his left hand rather better than most people 
can," and No. 4 " uses the left hand more easily than the 
right when cycling and using one hand to steer." 

The information supplied by this courteous head master 
is very important from the psychological standpoint, and 
I have to express my warmest thanks to him and others 
who have furnished these interesting statistics. 

A similar correspondence with the medical officers of 
all our prisons resulted in a concurrence of opinion 
equally strong, that, excepting where the special training 
of the criminal produced the sinistral skill, there exists no 
larger percentage either of left-handed or of bidextrous 
individuals in that depraved class than obtains in the 
community at large. 

When the great object of both education and custom 
has been to create an ever-widening distinction between 
the two hands ; when, e.g. our clerks, tradesmen, 
professional men, and our authors are seen writing with, 
and almost exclusively employing, the right hand from 



year's end to year's end in the most intelligent work, 
whilst the left hand is resting passively on the desk ; 
when, lastly, a lynx-eyed prejudice is ever on the alert to 
ridicule or forcibly suppress every attempt in our children 
to employ the sinistral hand, whether at home or at school, 
what wonder indeed if the cleverest pupils have proved to 
be most strongly right-handed, if all our giant intellects 
did possess a practically useless left hand, and if the most 
civilized race were, as stated, the most pronouncedly 
right-handed ? 

Is not the wonder all on the other side ? Is it not 
amazing that the right hand is not far more pre-eminent 
than we find it when it is remembered that all the com- 
bined forces of society and education have united for 
generations and ages in thwarting the natural propensities 
and development of our faculties of two-handedness, and 
in maturing a one-handed race ? 

" Nature," happily, has been too strong for them, and 
the abused left hand, fortunately for us, is not yet atrophied 
and lost by natural and unnatural selection, but remains 
vigorous and fit as ever to assert its equal rights and 
perform its equal functions. 

Surely it is time that all this sentimental vapouring 
about the imaginary advantages of Dextral pre-eminence 
and left brain predominance should cease ; that we 
should accept the teaching of nature — of anatomy and 
physiology — of analogy, of common sense, and of expedi- 
ency ; and that henceforth we should afford each hand an 
equal chance in the race for supremacy — if supremacy 
there must be — and equal education, and an equal share 
in all the duties and occupations of life, in order that a 
perfect Ambidexterity and a symmetrical brain organiza- 
tion shall be secured, both of which should conduce to a 
better physical development and to a higher standard of 
general efficiency, in the individual and in the nation 
at large. 



Man, in common with the lower animals, appears to be 
built on what may be called symmetrical or well-balanced 
lines. If we casually glance at his configuration, it would 
seem that a vertical mesial line would divide him into two 
very similar, if not indeed almost identical, halves ; his 
dual organs and limbs, such as ears, eyes, arms, hands, 
legs, and feet, presenting a remarkable resemblance to 
each other, whilst the divided halves of his single parts 
and organs, such as the brow, nose, and mouth, have an 
equally close likeness to each oth-er. When, however, we 
look more particularly into the question, it is found that 
this symmetry is conspicuous by its absence, and that 
whether we compare the corresponding right and left 
dual members, or the right and left halves of the single 
organs, the result is invariably the same, namely, an utter 
want of geometrical or physical identity or similarity ; and 
we are driven to the startling conclusion, when we extend 
our inquiries and observations to the animal world, yea, 
and to plant life also, that it is not Symmetry that 
characterizes our conformation, but its contrar)-, 
Asymmetry. And this irregularity or lack of balance 
is a striking feature, not only in construction throughout 
nature, but also in action, movement, and growth. 

As the question of Asymmetry has been both inti- 
mately associated with, and actually mistaken for, 
one-sidedness — and hence has been identified with right- 
handedness and left-handedness in man — it is expedient to 


examine the matter more carefully, and to supply a few 
ascertained facts, that no confusion may remain in the 
mind of the reader, and that the two things may be 
clearly differentiated. 

It is now generally admitted that beyond this pre- 
vailing inequality in the two hands, there likewise exists 
a corresponding asymmetry in all parts of the body. 
Thus every microscopist will have a favourite eye ; most 
persons find it easier to wink with one eye than with the 
other ; one nostril is usually more sensitive than the 
other ; mastication is carried on principally on one side 
of the mouth ; we all sleep on one side preferentially ; 
and every mother suckles more at one breast, be it right 
or left, than the other. 

Further, the two ears are not shaped alike, and are not 
equally acute in hearing power ; the two eyes are seldom, 
if ever, actually the same in acuteness of vision ; the arms 
are of different length and strength — and so are the legs ; 
whilst the two hands vary in the most remarkable 

Even the fine lines on the front pads of the fingers 
vary very frequently. These lines, which are useful in 
the identification of criminals, have received considerable 
attention during the last few years from medical men. 
The results are perplexing, and indefinite, symmetry, 
asymmetry, and utter irregularity alternating with almost 
equal persistency and in nearly equal proportion. 

Sometimes all the fingers of both hands will correspond, 
generally most of them match, but very often, perhaps in 
the great majority of cases, one finger will show an 
entirely different type from its fellow of the other hand. 
Such departures from the rule of symmetry are, up to the 
present, quite incomprehensible, but their occurrence in 
structures ready formed at birth, and not subject to 
modification by growth or use, is an important fact. 

Dr. T. Dwight continues : — "Again, with regard to the 
head, it is seldom held evenly. The joints are so made 



that it is unnatural for us to hold it straight. It rests 
much more comfortably and securely when turned to one 
side. It is needless to say that an inclination to one 
particular side becomes habitual, and very curious 
changes in the head and face result, some of which are to 
be seen even in the bones. . . . The unevenness of the 
two sides of the head is prettily shown on the outlines 
found at hatters' shops. . . . The want of perfect sym- 
metry in the face is a twice told tale. The ways of the 
nose are notoriousl}^ irregular, pages could be written on 
its deviations from the straight path. The right side of 
the upper jaw is the stronger. Its teeth are arranged in 
a smaller curve. The right cheek is usually the fuller. . . . 
This want of symmetry in the face, and particularly in 
the eyes, naturally suggests the question as to how far 
the position and slight distortion of the face may be the 
result of the habitually greater use of one eye, and whether 
its effects may not extend to modifying the position of the 
body, and causing the more ready use of one hand. That 
there is some truth in the suggestion is very probable, but 
the question is a very difficult one, which still requires 
much research." 

In short, whatever may be the original cause, every 
tendency, every development, and every habit of the 
human body is towards asymmetry, and not in the 
direction of exact symmetrical balance, or bilateral 

When these observations and investigations are carried 
beneath the surface, and extended to the bony skeleton, 
similar irregularities are constantly met with. I believe 
it to be a fact that hitherto no such thing as a perfectly 
symmetrical skeleton has ever yet been found ; that is one 
in which the bones of the two sides correspond exactly 
in shape, length, and weight. 

The very frequent discrepancies and the considerable 
divergencies that are constantly encountered, are both 
interesting and inexplicable, not merely to the ordinary 


mind, but equally to the scientific student and to the 
most distinguished anatomist. 

Mr. J. G. Garson says that, after carefully examining 
and measuring in the most scientific way possible the 
bones of seventy well-authenticated skeletons, in seven 
only were the legs of equal length ; in twenty-five the 
right leg was the longer, and in the remaining thirty-eight 
the left leg was longer ; and not only was the left leg 
longer, but the difference was greater than when the right 
leg exceeded the left. 

These "inequalities in the length of the limbs do not, 
as far as my observations go, seem to be confined to any 
age, sex, or race, as I find that the limbs of young persons 
differed quite as much as those of many adults. There 
was the same variety in the limbs of females as males, 
and of Australians or Negroes as Europeans." 

In fifty of the above seventy skeletons, when the arms 
were measured, a similar or perhaps more pronounced 
difference was discovered. In thirty-six of them (or 
72 per cent.) the right arm was longer than the left ; in 
twelve the left arm was the longer ; and in only two (or 
4 per cent.) were the two arms equal. 

On comparing both arms and legs of these fifty 
skeletons, the right arm and left leg were longer than 
the left arm and right leg in twenty-three cases ; the 
contrary obtained in six cases ; the right arm and right 
leg were longer than the left arm and left leg in 
thirteen cases; and the left arm and left leg were the 
longer in four cases. In the remaining four skeletons 
the legs were equal, but the right arm was longer than 
the left in two of them, and in the other two the arms 
were equal. 

In only two skeletons out of fifty, then, was there found 
to exist equality in length of limb — ^just 4 per cent. 
Unfortunately we are not told whether these two sym- 
metrical skeletons were of adults or children, because it 
would be interesting to know if the skeleton of an adult 



had actually preserved its equal lengths of limbs in spite 
of the adverse influences of education and practice. 

The measurements by other observers are of a like kind. 
Dr. Dwight found that in forty-four persons, the right 
arm was longer than the left in thirty-four, the left arm 
the longer in seven, and that both arms were equal in the 
remaining three. 

Dr. Rollet, of Lyons, found ninety-six, out of loo, with 
a longer right arm, three with a longer left, and onty one 
with both equally long. 

Dr. Hitchcock, of Amherst, measured the arms of 1,759 
students, amongst whom the greater proportion had a 
longer right arm (the figures are not given). The above 
measurements work out at just 3 per cent, being possessed 
of equall)'^ long arms. 

Besides, it is not only in length, but in strength also 
that these limbs differ ; and the right arm is in the large 
majority of instances found to be the stronger, whilst the 
left leg is frequently much stronger than the right ; Mr. 
W. J. Simpson of Edinburgh being of opinion that 
though the right leg is generally the more skilful, the 
left leg is quite as often the stronger. 

In 312 students examined by Dr. Hitchcock, 78*25 per 
cent, had a stronger right arm ; 13*7 per cent, a stronger 
left, and some eight per cent, had equally strong arms ; 
whilst with forty left-handed students, twenty-one had a 
stronger left arm, seven a stronger right, and no less than 
twelve were equally strong in both. Nature and educa- 
tion combined, of course, fully account for this unusual 
percentage of equality. 

It may therefore be taken for granted that with regard 
to both upper and lower limbs as3'mmetry is the rule and 
symmetry the rare exception ; and furthermore that the 
same irregularity or asymmetry prevails almost invariably 
throughout man's whole skeleton. The pursuit of this 
phenomenon into plant and animal life is most instructive 
— we can only briefly refer to it. It may be observed in 


the claws of a lobster or crab, and in the teeth of a 
narwhal. This cetacean generally exhibits a long left 
tooth and an undeveloped right one, but sometimes this 
order is reversed, and still more rarely both teeth are 
met with fairly developed. In flat fish the position of the 
eyes varies wonderfully, and at times one of these fish will 
be seen swimming on the wrong side. 

Before dismissing this question of asymmetry in 
animals, we must discuss the theory set up by certain 
writers that this irregularity actually develops into one- 
sidedness, and, with such creatures as monkeys, into 

Dr. W. Ogle, a most painstaking and able inquirer, 
has bestowed much attention on this subject, and he 
remarks that "the observations which I made on monkeys 
have convinced me that they, like us, are as a general 
rule right-handed. I spent much time in investigating 
this matter at the Zoological Gardens, and I found that 
of twenty-three monkeys, twenty were right-handed and 
three left-handed. The parrot supports itself on its right 
leg whilst using its left foot to hold the nut ; this in a 
majority of cases ; and each individual parrot always acts 
in the same way. Of eighty-six parrots that I tested 
repeatedly in this way, sixty-three invariably supported 
themselves on the right leg, while the remaining twenty- 
three as invariably perched on the left one." 

One would naturally infer from these facts re the 
parrots, that they are left-footed, since they use the left 
for the dextrous exercises, and use their right foot for 
gripping the perch because it would appear to be the 
stronger, but Dr. Ogle takes the opposite view, for he 
says : — " It may perhaps be objected that, as the parrot, 
though it perches on the right foot, uses the left to feed 
itself, it may as fairly be said to manifest a sinistral as a 
dextral pre-eminence. . . . But, as a matter of fact, the 
pre-eminence must be considered dextral, not sinistral, 
for in the double act that part is fundamental which 



precedes the other. The parrot must rest itself upon the 
right leg before it proceeds to use the disengaged leg ; 
and, also, the young parrot must first learn to support 
itself on the right before it can learn the after act 
of feeding itself with the free foot. In other words, the 
original selection is of the foot which shall serve as a 
support, not of the foot which shall be used for feeding — 
and this selection is in favour of the right as a rule. 

" Repeated observations of birds of various orders, 
other than the parrots, have led me to believe that not 
only is the left leg used as much as the right for perching, 
but that the very same individual uses sometimes one, 
sometimes the other, indifferently. Parrots are, in fact, 
the only birds in which I have been able to detect with 
actual certainty any pre-eminence in one side above the 

In this very plausible reasoning of Dr. Ogle's we think 
there are two or three mistakes, one of which is the 
assertion that the young parrots have first of all to 
learn to support themselves on one leg. Is this a fact, or 
do birds instinctively perch on one leg from the very first 
in the same way that young ducks swim at the very first 
plunge and quite as well as their mothers ? I have never 
seen chickens trying to stand on one leg any more than 
trying to walk on two, nor have I ever seen a duck or 
a goose or a duckling or a gosling trying to swim with 
one foot, although I have frequently observed them, and 
more especially swans, use one, and either foot, singly, 
according as they wanted to go in the right or left direction. 

Our contention, therefore, is that the young parrot 
neither learns to support itself on one leg nor learns to 
feed itself with the other, but that from the first, with 
this bird, both actions are instinctive or automatic, and 
that any selection it may make of the right or left leg and 
foot for purposes of perching or feeding is determined 
entirely and exclusively by the circumstances or the 


However, on the other hand, assuming that Dr. Ogle 
is right in saying that young parrots have to learn how- 
to perch on one leg, we still must protest against his 
conclusion, for we may just as well declare that the prior 
selection of the left hand for steadying the book (or of 
the steadying hand) is argument sufficient against the 
subsequent selection of the dextrous hand for managing 
the pen (or of the writing hand), since the hand has 
undoubtedly learnt to hold things steady ages before the 
dextrous hand had learnt to write. Or, again, it is just as 
rational to say that every artist is left-handed who holds 
the palette in his left hand and uses the brush with his 
right, and for the same reason, according to Dr. Ogle's 

Certainly, if the fact that because monkeys used their 
right hands to extend towards, grasp, and manage nuts 
whilst steadying, supporting or suspending themselves 
with their left (as Dr. Ogle says they did), they are to be 
considered right-handed (as Dr. Ogle says they are), then. 
So, because parrots use their left feet to extend towards, 
grasp, and manage the nuts whilst supporting themselves 
on their right (as Dr. Ogle again says they do), we must 
consider them to be left-footed — and this by an un- 
avoidable parity of reasoning. 

Still once more, it is not Dr. Ogle's logic merely that 
is challenged here — so are his facts ; for what does Dr. 
Hollis say in his contribution to " The Journal of 
Anatomy," entitled " Lopsided Generations " ? — " I have 
tried experiments with specimens of the Rhesus Monkey, 
the Bonnet Monkey (Macacus Radiatus), the Macacus 
Silenus and the Macacus Cynomologus, and I have been 
unable to detect, as the result of several experiments in 
each case, any preference for the use of the right limb." 
The well-known Dr. Humphrey, who is more fully referred 
to in a later chapter, expressly declares that " in none of 
the lower animals is there that difference between the two 
limbs which is so general among men." 



On reading these conflicting statements by such 
careful observers, I was much exercised in my mind, and 
was also utterly unable to account for such a flat con- 
tradiction as to the presence or absence of this preferential 
use of one side ; I consequently resolved to make some 
observations on those and other animals myself, with a 
view to ascertaining whether Dr. Ogle and those who 
agree with him, or Drs. Hollis and Humphrey, who 
deduce the very opposite conclusions, were right. To 
this end I visited the Zoological Gardens, and spent 
considerable time there in watching the natural gambols 
and movements of the monkeys ; the actions of the 
parrots under ordinary and other circumstances, and also 
the habits of the birds — including the waterfowl — in their 
several inclosures. 

From first to last the monkeys exhibited the most 
perfect two-handedness, not one single act did I notice 
that would point to any preference whatever towards 
either one of their four hands. Whether leaping and 
flying all over their cages in swift pursuit or flight, or 
engaged in other less energetic exercises, whether their 
bodies were in motion or at rest, both hands were used 
indifferently, and strictly interchangeably, for ever3^thing. 
This view is supported moreover by the testimon}^ of 
that acute observer. Professor D. J. Cunningham, who 
assured his audience, at the Huxley Lecture on October 
2ist, igo2, that : — " For many years I have had an 
intimate experience of both the higher and lower apes in 
the gardens of the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland, 
and have never been able to satisfy myself that the}^ 
show any decided preference for the use of one arm more 
than the other. I may mention that recently a male 
chimpanzee, about six years old, having died in the 
gardens, I had the bones of the two upper limbs carefully 
prepared. They were then weighed, and it was found 
that the bones of the two sides were as nearly as possible 
equal in weight ; what slight difference there was, was 


in favour of the left upper limb." (Journal of the 
Anthropological Institute, p. 285 and note.) " I cannot 
persuade myself that the ape possesses any superior 
power in either arm." (Ibid. p. 293.) 

Dr. Ogle's observations having been made in or before 
1871, we may conclude that few, if any, of the monkeys 
viewed by him have survived that long period of thirt}^ 
odd years, but even this hardly explains such a total 
absence of one-handed preference. The parrots also 
which I repeatedly tested in cages and on stands exhibited 
the same supreme indifference to one-sided culture. They 
managed the nuts equally well with both feet (the same 
parrot for instance at different times). Inquiries addressed 
to the attendants, as to which, if either, foot was generally 
used, elicited the reply that there was never any difference 
at all ; that the parrots ate, or held their food, perched, 
and climbed similarly with both feet ; but that if there 
was any preferential use, they thought the left leg and 
foot had it, which hypothetical preference was of course 
fully explained by the restrictions of their confinement, 
or the chains on their legs. 

With reference to horses standing at ease, cows, pigs, 
deer, and other animals lying on one side, my constant 
and close observations have utterly failed to discover any 
appreciable favour bestowed on either the right or left 
side. In counting the horses standing easy on the right 
or left leg, the numbers (out of hundreds of standing 
horses not resting on either leg) varied all the way up to 
thirty easing the left to thirty-three easing the right. 
Sheep, goats, pigs, deer and other animals, including dogs, 
appear to utterly disregard the question of "Which side" 
save as peculiar circumstances or local placement may 
decide; the birds perching on the left leg, others and 
about as many on the right, and changing their leg (as 
indeed the horses did also in easy standing) at shorter or 
longer intervals. 

When the lions are fed, they — in common with the 



tigers, jaguars, leopards, &c., — hold the meat similarly 
with both paws, and in climbing they showed no preference 
for either side, whether in ascending or descending. Even 
the bears sitting on their haunches observed the same 
neutrality ; and if they did entertain any secret liking for 
either paw or for either side, they decidedly refrained from 
displaying it on those occasions. 

It will be noticed too that birds, in sleeping, hide their 
heads sometimes under one wing and sometimes under 
the other. 

Sir John Struthers, M.D., in the " Edinburgh Medical 
Journal," writes: — " My shoemaker informs me that the 
right side of the hide is generally thicker than the left ; 
and on further inquiry at a leather merchant, who deals 
largely in the hides of the calf and ox, I am informed 
that the above is a well-known fact in the trade, the right 
being known as the ' lying ' side of the skin. The 
quadruped would appear at any rate to lie more on the 
right than on the left side. It would seem as if this must 
be during sleep, for one may count the ruminants, with 
their paunchful of grass, resting about as numerously on 
the left as on the right side ; but the direction of the wind 
and sun, and the slope of the ground, with the direction 
in which the animal was standing, may influence this, and 
there should be a tendency to alternate the sides for 
muscular relief." 

Accepting these statements of Sir John Struthers as 
correct, the cause of one-sidedness in animals would be 
materially strengthened ; but we think even a cursory 
glance at the argument would reveal its weakness, and the 
extreme improbability of its conclusions. For is it not 
natural to suppose that at any rate in the case of calves 
there could not be any such difference in the two sides, 
inasmuch as there had been no time for any amount of 
lying to affect the skin ? If the calf had spent the whole 
of its short life lying on its right side, the skin could not 


show the smallest change arising therefrom. And 
similarly with the ox, which, as we shall presently hear, 
is usually killed when quite young. If the learned doctor 
had only taken cows to illustrate his theory, there might 
have been a possibility of escape ; but with calves and 
oxen the argument stultifies itself. The presence of such 
phrases as "would appear at any rate," "It would 
seem as if," " may influence this " and " there should 
be a tendency," goes to show that Sir John has very 
little confidence in his own logic, or in the assumed facts 
on which that logic is based. 

The two questions, then, that we have to consider and 
determine are, first, is the right side of the skins or 
hides of oxen and cows and calves thicker than the left ? 
and, second, is this thickness caused by the animals 
lying much more on the right side than on the left ? 

In order to test the first of these questions, a series of 
observations was begun with reference to calves, cows 
and oxen, and a scheme of inquiry was also instituted, 
both of which should be at once as comprehensive as they 
were conclusive. This subject of one-sidedness, and of 
the right-lying side of animals, has possessed a kind of 
fascination for the present writer ; and no part of the 
entire argument has afforded more genuine pleasure than 
the study of the asymmetry, and the assumed right- 
sidedness, of certain animals, domestic and other. The 
perplexing fact, that two equally competent, careful and 
distinguished authorities should — after similarly prolonged 
scientific and professional experiments and observa- 
tions — flatly contradict each other in their deductions and 
pronouncements, was too remarkable a phenomenon to 
pass over in silence ; hence the determination to sift the 
question of one-sidedness (both in handling and in lying) 
to the very bottom, and to ascertain what were the 
actual habits of the animals thus so very diversely 



The saving clause in the doctor's case is evidently that 
which locates the right-lying to the night-time, and where 
he says, " It would seem as if this must be during sleep ; " 
but there is no obligation on the part of his critics to 
answer a mere unproved assumption, even were there any 
ground for supposing it to have ever so small a support 
from actual fact or common experience, which this 
particular supposition most certainly does not possess ; for 
what reason is there to imagine that calves, cows, or oxen 
will have two specified and unvarying modes of reclining, 
which they will strictly observe without confusion every 
day and every night ? We shall therefore understand, 
and take for granted, that this right-lying is to be 
decided once for all by the ordinary habits of the animals 
during the day as determined by careful observation, and 
by the evidence of a large number of leather merchants, 
tanners, importers, and specialists (including curriers, of 

We feel strongly with regard to this question, because 
once decide and dispose of the delusion, or mistake, which 
attributes one-sidedness to animals, and a very great 
difficulty has been got rid of in the argument which will 
be hereinafter set forth as to right-handedness in man. 
Not that the argument referred to would be invalidated 
even by the demonstrated right-lying tendency of animals, 
but if the total absence of all bias and one-sidedness 
in the brute creation can be satisfactorily proved, the 
reasoning from analogy will be of significant value when 
we treat of the cause of so much one-handedness in 

On general lines it may be objected to this assumed 
one-sidedness of these cattle, why should such a bias be 
confined to three or four kinds, and why should not the 
preferential use of one side or the other extend to every 
species of animals on the face of the earth ? There could 
be but one reply to this question in any case. And that 


reply is, because these animals, so affected, have been for 
thousands of years subject to man, and, by the restraints 
of domesticity and confinement, their natural habits have 
been modified to the extent of a hybrid one-sidedness, 
which, in the best cases, is both uncertain and fugitive in 
its character. 

The results of a continuous and prolonged series of test 
cases, with widely varying numbers of cows and oxen, are 
of a most decisive character. From three to nearly 300 
animals have been the objects of observation at one time ; 
but in no instance have more than forty-three been counted 
lying down at the same instant. 

In one case a certain field of from fifteen to fifty cattle 
(the numbers varied every five or six days) was seen daily, 
often twice a day, at irregular hours, for several months 
together. The numbers were taken down carefully, and 
the figures are so strong as to almost prove too much. 
However, whilst there is this approximate unanimity, it 
may be well to state that no case of identical or similar 
results, on the one hand, or of predominant right-lying, 
on the other, has been suppressed. 

Herewith are given forty comparisons, it being under- 
stood that the animals were lying down at the same time 
and in the same enclosure. Except in one case the beasts 
were always in the open field; no strong winds were 
blowing to bias their action ; when the sun was shining 
powerfully the animals were to be seen lying on either 
side, quite indifferent to the fact ; and, so far as could be 
ascertained, they were never influenced by any external 
modifying force whatsoever. No care was taken to deter- 
mine, in those groups that were seen on so many occa- 
sions, whether the same cows always reclined on the 
same side, or on either side indifferently ; but it is certain 
that they must have used both sides with about the same 
degree of frequency, because the numbers varied so ver}' 
widely and constantly. 




Left. Right, 

Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. 

















































1 1 























In the above forty observations the total numbers read, 
igg lying on the left side, and 141 lying on the right. 
This gives about 415^ per cent, only in support of the 
theory, and 58I per cent, in opposition to it. It seems 
strange that after more than 1,000 cattle have been seen, 
out of which nearly 350 were lying down in the manner 
described, that the right side should be affected in the 
way mentioned by the doctor, and by the shoemaker and 
tanners he communicated with. 

Since the above was written the author has taken an 
additional series of observations whilst travelling some 
250 miles through the Midlands of England. The results 
were as follow : — 

o left, I right occurred fourteen times, 
o left, 2 right occurred seven times. 

0 left, 3 right occurred twice. 

1 left, o right occurred twenty-one times. 
I left, I right occurred twenty-one times. 
I left, 2 right occurred eleven times. 

1 left, 3 right occurred four times. 

2 left, o right occurred eleven times. 

2 left, I right occurred eighteen times. 
2 left, 2 right occurred three times. 

2 left, 3 right occurred once. 

3 left, o right occurred three times. 
3 left, I right occurred nine times. 
3 left, 2 right occurred three times. 


3 left, 3 right occurred five times. 

4 left, o right occurred four times. 
4 left, I right occurred five times. 
4 left, 2 right occurred twice. 

4 left, 3 right occurred twice. 

4 left, 4 right occurred twice. 

5 left, 2 right occurred three times. 

5 left, 3 right occurred once. 

6 left, 2 right occurred twice. 

7 left, 3 right occurred twice. 
12 left, 4 right occurred once. 

These 157 separate observations, all taken on the same 
day practically, give a total of 301 animals lying on their 
left sides, and only 192 lying on their right; working out 
at 61 per cent, left side, and 39 per cent, right side, in 
round numbers. 

As all these animals, save about a dozen, were found in 
varieties of surroundings, in sunshine and shade, on flat 
ground and on sloping ground, and at all times of the day 
from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., their positions are the more signi- 
ficant, and they seem to go very far in supporting, yea 
proving, the contention that the right side is not the lying 
side of such cattle any more than the left. 

The author took the opportunity to observe the reclin- 
ing attitudes of sheep at the same time, although no 
figures were recorded. But it was obvious that their 
positions were quite as varied as those of the cows, oxen, 
and horses ; and though, during the journey, many 
hundreds of sheep were seen lying down, in no case was 
there any uniformity of either side, whether in large or 
small numbers. This also agrees with the habits of the 
larger animals. 

Notwithstanding the conclusive character of these 
figures, inquiries were made amongst farmers, curriers, 
and tanners. The replies varied but very little, the general 
tenor being that this one-sidedness in the animals referred 
to did not exist. One large firm of tanners writes : — 
" We don't know that there is any material difference in 



substance of the two sides of a hide, and we have tanned 
most kinds." 

Another very well-known and long-established house 
treats the matter still more particularly, and states : — 
" Replying re ox and cow hides, in one branch of our 
trade it is necessary to split the tanned hide down the 
backbone, and to accurately cut from patterns, worked 
from the backbone, leather into various shapes that must 
match each other from the same part of each side. We 


— providing the workman is careful — the two sections, 


are ours.) 

A third authority says : — " There is no difference in the 
sides of cattle up to four years of age. No difference is 
noticed in the case of oxen which are usually killed young ; 
but in the case of old cows, the belly on the left side is 
more baggy and loose than that on the right side," and in 
a subsequent letter this gentleman observes : — " I pre- 
sume the extra looseness is caused by the animals lying 
on that side, but the matter has not been investigated as 
far as I know, as it is not of much interest to tanners " ! 

Once more, and the reply runs as follows: — " Our ex- 
perience is that the left side of hides, cows especiall}', is 
much more difficult to work than the right. In dressing 
the hides our curriers have to work them out flat upon a 
large table. This is done when the leather is quite wet, 
in order to get the goods flat, and to get all the grain out. 
The left side is harder to get flat and to work generall}^" 

The present writer called on the firm from whose letter 
the last quotation is taken, when, in a most interesting con- 
versation, they confirmed the fact, and their foreman currier 
— through whose hands some 600,000 hides have passed 
— said that this was their common experience. Adjourn- 
ing to the store-rooms, several hides, taken at random 
from different bundles, were examined, with the result 


that in every one looked at there was the same bulginess, 
or lack of uniform flatness, on the left side. What caused 
this irregularity they could not say, nor even suggest, so 
the inquiry was carried a further step forward, by reference 
to several importers of foreign hides, and to specialists in 
the tanning and curriers' trade. 

Up to this point, then, the evidence of extended ob- 
servations shows that cows and oxen lie, to a slight 
extent, preferentially on their left sides, and certainly not 
on the right as stated ; whilst the experience of tanners 
and curriers is that, whatever the cause may be, the left 
side of the hide is never so flat or so easy to work as the 
right side, but that it is loose, baggy, and difficult to dress 
as compared with the right side. 

Herewith are presented the opinions and experience of 
the second set of authorities to whom inquiries were 

No. I writes : — "As a practical tanner I am not aware 
of any constant difference between the two sides of the 
skin, of the sort you mention." 

No. 2 says : — " In cow hides we have noticed a baggy 
side which is in some slight degree more loose and flabby 
than the other ; but not sufficiently so to affect the 
texture of the hide when tanned, or, to a perceptible 
degree, the substance. Our idea is that the slight 
bagginess is caused by the presence of wind in the 
stomach, which is forced on the opposite side to which 
the animal is lying." 

No. 3 writes : — " We cannot say that we have ever 
noticed an extra bagginess on one side of a hide more 
than another, although we have often heard of it. We 
may say that we tan nothing except heifer and ox 
hides." The experience of this firm is quite in accord- 
ance with the statement that those animals are killed 
whilst young. 

No. 4 concludes a long and most interesting letter as 
follows : — " Finally, in regard to the preferential use of 



one side by the cows or sheep, I have never noticed with 
grazing cattle or sheep that they have a preferential side, 
and I doubt whether the looseness or bagginess of the 
hide or skin can be directly attributed to the lying down, 
because all animals lie more on the stomach than the 
side." The writer of this very valuable decision has 
made a profound study of the question of breeds and 
hides, and in a long letter, in which he refers to stall-fed 
cattle, ship-borne cattle, and wild or prairie cattle, he 
explains most lucidly many curious relevant matters 
regarding them. 

No. 5 replies : — " We frequently notice that one side 
of the hide differs in character from the other, but we 
should not go so far as to say that it is the left side 
which is always the loose and baggy one. This is merel}^ 
a surmise on our part, and may be quite wide of the 
mark ; it is a theory which we hold, probably for want 
of a better, but there seems a fair amount of reason 
in it." 

No. 6 is precise and conclusive: — "With regard to ox 
hides from the River Plate, I have only very occasionally 
noticed in some hides a slight difference, which would 
probably be accounted for by the fleshing process in the 
tannery ; but there is no certain invariable rule, unless it 
be that both sides are alike." 

The result of all these inquiries, then, is to show that 
there is no such thing as a uniform or general thickening 
of one side of the skins or hides of the animals named ; 
and with regard to the looseness or bagginess, which is a 
common occurrence in the hides of cows, some of the 
tanners say it is found on the lying side, whilst others 
say just as positively that it is found on the upper or non- 
lying side. In any case, we are justified in concluding 
that there is no support to be obtained to the theory 
of animal one-sidedness as set out by the doctor and his 
followers ; that one-sidedness is not a characteristic 
amongst the brute creation, and is not recognized or 


displayed in natural life ; that the universal law pervading 
and governing all locomotion and action is absolutely 
untainted with any bias towards either the right or left 
side in all well-known animals ; and, further, that if any 
such peculiarity as a preferential use of one side is ever 
exhibited by an individual member of a species, it is 
merely a freak of nature (of not the least account in the 
argument now under consideration), or the unavoidable 
effect of a peculiar environment ; and that in every such 
case it has nothing to do with the prevalent existence of 
asymmetry in animal organization and conformation. 

Asymmetry and one-sidedness, then, are seen to be 
totally different things, neither of which appears to 
influence the other to any appreciable extent. For 
example, the most symmetrically organized and con- 
structed person may be very strongly right-handed, 
whilst another, similarly symmetrically formed, may be 
just as strongly left-handed; yet once more, one man 
shall have his right arm longer and stronger than his 
left, his left eye shall see better than his right, his right 
ear shall hear better than his left, the corresponding 
finger-prints on each hand shall differ in shape, the 
fingers themselves shall also differ in both length and 
thickness, his left leg shall be longer and stronger than 
his right, and yet with all this wonderful asymmetry, 
he shall not be either left or right handed ; i.e. he shall 
not have any natural bias towards one hand or the 

Before leaving this subject of asymmetry, a passing 
reference may be fittingly made to that most mysterious 
phenomenon occasionally met with by medical men 
which has hitherto baffled all attempts at explanation, 
viz. " Transposition of the Viscera," and to the fact that 
such a wonderful reversal of all that is natural does not 
seem to affect the health of the individual in the smallest 
degree. Those who are so constructed remain quite 
normal in their functions, habits, and movements. More 



particular mention of this peculiarity will be found in a 
subsequent chapter. 

It has, then, been clearly established that the theory of 
one-handedness in man can derive no support whatever 
from a reference to the assumed one-sidedness in animal 
life, for such one-sidedness does not exist in any species 
with which we are at present acquainted. 



One-handedness is SO common all over the world, and 
has been so in every age and nation back to the remotest 
historic period, that the conclusion is forced upon us that 
there must be a very cogent reason for such a mani- 
festation. Doubtless there have been all along the past 
centuries of civilization periodical waves of curiosity or 
inquiry as to the prevalence of one-handedness ; for 
observant minds must have been struck with the 
anomalous state of things, and the superior dexterity 
of their right hands. But in spite of the most careful 
study, we are almost as much in the dark regarding 
the true cause of dextrality, and of the much less 
frequent sinistrality, as were our forefathers thousands of 
years ago. 

Elaborate and plausible theories have been formulated 
to account for the one-handedness of man, but, as we 
shall see in the sequel, there is nothing hitherto advanced 
that can be accepted as the prime cause of it. Won- 
derful, as all will grant it is, that a two-handed creature 
should be one-handed in practice, it is still more won- 
derful that, go where we will, men are not merely one- 
handed, they are all of them RiGHT-handed ! If there 
had been as many left-handed persons as right-handed, 
or thereabouts, the problem would be a different one, 
and we might feel inclined to challenge the perfection of 
an economy that produced a two-handed order of beings 
who were unable to utilize the limbs with which they 



were provided, finding that it was much better to possess 
one dexterous hand than two. 

But when it is further seen that practically every 
nation elects to use only one hand, and that they are all 
equally peculiar in selecting the same hand, namely, the 
Right, for the post of honour, the complexity increases, 
and we are forced to the inquiry, Why is man given two 
hands of exactly identical capabilities when he can, or 
does, fully use only one ? and why was not the left 
member a kind of dummy hand, with just enough or- 
ganization and prehensile power to make it what man 
religiously resolves it shall be, a poor, feeble, and very 
inferior understudy to the right ? 

Why invest the left hand with latent potencies of 
sensibility, mobility, and agility, equal in every respect 
to the ACTIVE, because cultivated, potencies of the right 
hand, if in ninety-seven cases out of every hundred they 
are to lie dormant and useless for the whole period of a 
man's life ? Is there not some oversight, superfluity, or 
mistake in such a fact ? Nevertheless, for the past fifty 
years philosophers and scientific men have not been 
exercising their faculties in trying to remedy a serious 
fault ; on the contrary, they have been positively de- 
claring the wisdom of a ONE-handed principle, and of a 
one-handed race ; more, they have sagel)^ and occasion- 
ally very bitterly, denounced the advocates of a Two- 
handed innovation as cranks of the most pronounced 

No pains have been spared in the propagation of this 
one-handed education. Parents, teachers, doctors, and 
nurses on one side have combined to crush every natural 
aspiration and effort in the unfortunate left hand ; and on 
the other side, prejudice, ignorance, and custom have 
united their forces to make this differentiation still more 
defined and absolute. 

It is now our duty to present, in as compressed a form 
as possible, with a due regard to lucidity, the several 


hypotheses that have been put forward to account for the 
right-handedness that prevails ; to make upon them what 
comments may seem desirable or necessary, and to offer 
as a substitute for them all, what would appear to be the 
most and only simple, natural, and satisfactory explanation 
of the whole question that we think can be proposed. 

The theorists whose speculations it is intended to 
examine may be conveniently arranged into two classes, 
according as to whether they ascribe right-handedness to 
causes within or without the individual, and the questions 
they have set themselves to decide (and which they have 
to their own entire satisfaction conclusively answered) 
may be framed as follows : — 

First : "Whence does right-handedness arise, and is 
this dextral superiority innate and congenital, that is, are 
there organic or constitutional reasons for its general pre- 
eminence ? 

Second : Is right-handedness the result of acquired 
habits consequent on the recognized convenience of 
uniformity of action amongst members of the same 
community ? 

Third : Is right-handedness, however acquired, trans- 
mitted by heredity, and, if so, to what extent ? 

Those authorities who contend that one-handedness is an 
acquired habit, the result of external pressure or influence, 
as nursing, education, &c., will comprise the first class ; 
the second class including those who maintain that one- 
handedness is a natural faculty or an instinct, or that it 
is the result of some organic peculiarity or development of 
the human body. 

It is asserted, then, that right-handedness is 

1. The result of Nursing and Infantile Treatment. 

2. The result of Practice in Writing and Drawing. 

3. An acquired Habit. 

4. The outcome of Warfare, Education and Heredity. 

5. The result of Hereditary Impulse. 

6. The result of a Mechanical Law. 



7. The result of Internal Organic Structure. 

8. An Instinct or Endowment. 

g. The effect of Visceral Distribution. 

10. The result of Bloodvessel Arrangement. 

11. The result of Brain One-sidedness. 

12. The result of Natural Selection. 

Although some of these theories are rather indefinite 
and others overlap to some extent, it will be convenient to 
discuss each one separately on its own merits, and this we 
purpose doing even at the risk of a little repetition. 

I. The Result of Nursing and Infantile 

This suggested cause of right-handedness may be 
dismissed with but scant consideration, for on reflection 
it can hardly be looked upon as a really serious statement. 
That it has been put forward in all honesty (though we 
have failed to trace its modern authorship) there is no 
doubt, for Dr. J. Mark Baldwin observes, " It has frequently 
been held that a child's right-handedness arises from the 
nurse's or mother's constant method of carrying it : the 
child's hand which is left free being more exercised, and so 
becoming stronger." This theory is ambiguous as regards 
both mother and child. The mother, if right-handed, 
would carry the child on the left arm in order to work 
with the right hand and arm. But this would leave the 
child's left arm free, and a right-handed mother would 
thus have, or be found with, a left-handed child, and vice 
versa. Common experience proves that neither of these 
positions is true. 

Again, we are told that infants get right-handed by 
being placed too much on one side for sleep. Such an 
argument is too obviously absurd for reply at any length 
to be made, for it is impossible to conceive that such a 
uniform result should ensue from manifold, diversified, 
and even contrary modes of nursing. Plato, however, 
ridicules the idea that the use of the right hand is natural, 


and attributes the weakness of the left side to bad habits 
estabhshed by nurses and mothers. This theory, there- 
fore, has all the advantage that antiquity and classical 
association can confer upon it. 

Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the environment 
of infancy exerts no small or insignificant influence upon 
the child as to its future manipulatory development, for 
the period is one in which the impressionableness is at its 
maximum in the individual's being. Mr. W. H. Borham, 
in a letter to " The Lancet " some time ago, contributed a 
most interesting case having features bearing very directly 
on the point under review, and on the kindred question of 
fugitive or sporadic left-handedness. He says : — " Out of 
a large family of some generations I never remember one 
having been left-handed. My second son, however, soon 
after his birth, was obliged to be brought up by a wet- 
nurse who was left-handed ; and she continued to be his 
nurse until he was five years old. During that time he 
was left-handed in everything he did. After the attendance 
of the nurse was no longer required the boy gradually for- 
sook his left-handed ways and has been right-handed ever 
since. . . . The inference I draw is this : — The child's 
impulse from example and its practical nature may be the 
means of carefully constructing a left-handed theory upon 
a firmer basis ! " 

It is dangerous, useless, and illogical to argue from a 
solitary case and to deduce therefrom general conclusions, 
but in this instance the facts undoubtedly show what can 
be done, nay what is being done every day to a most 
serious extent with the 80 per cent, unbiassed children 
that are born into the world. Given a neutral subject, 
such as Mr. Borham's son evidently was (or he could not 
have been so sensitive to external influences), and without 
question it is possible to train that subject to be right- 
handed, left-handed, or two-handed ; and he, or she, will 
respond equally readily and easily to any one of the three 
schemes of education that may be employed. 



But education, as usually understood, is several steps in 
advance of nursing, and the subject is treated separately 
under Section 4 of this Chapter. The suggestion that 
infantile treatment determines right-handedness fails to 
establish its claim, being contrary to common experience. 

2. The Result of Practice in Writing and 


Mr. R. Brudenell Carter remarks, " It may safely be laid 
down that the superiority of the right hand over the left, 
for purposes of free manipulation, is almost entirely due 
to the cultivation of the muscles of the former by the 
practice of writing and drawing." 

It must not be supposed that this eminent surgeon 
intends it to be understood that "the practice of writing 
and drawing" is "entirely" responsible for the prevalence 
of right-handedness, but that with modern and civilized 
peoples it forms the chief factor in the promotion of 
dextral pre-eminence. That writing is a vital element in 
manual dexterity ; more, that it is the most essential 
function in hand-training, we strongly affirm, and it is 
gratifying to have the dictum of such a distinguished 
surgeon in support of our contention ; and that drawing, 
likewise, plays a most important part in the process is, we 
think, equally true (see Chaps. II. and III., Pt. II.) ; but 
when it is remembered that one-handedness and right- 
handedness were in vigorous existence ages before writing 
and drawing were known, and that both of these phenomena 
(hand developments) are still prominent in heathen tribes 
where the arts have not penetrated, we must grant that, 
however strong may be the effect of the practice of writing 
and drawing in educated communities, that " practice " 
can only be regarded as a subordinate aid, a supple- 
mentary adjunct in the great economy, or potency, 
that has hitherto eluded our keenest and severest 


Moreover, it is hardly necessary to point out that this 
theory entirely fails when applied to either the 3 per 
cent, left-handed, or the 17 per cent, strongly right- 
handed persons who are respectively left-handed and 
right-handed, irrevocably so, long before they take a pen 
into their tiny fingers, and who cannot be made other 
than what they are by nature ; no, not by all the writing 
and drawing practice of a lifetime. 

3, An Acquired Habit. 

It is surprising how in this controversy so many eminent 
men, experts and specialists, propound and advocate 
opposing opinions ; and, at the same time, how firmly 
convinced each opponent is that his own theory, and 
none other, must be the true one. This confident 
assurance of belief runs through almost every type that 
will be examined. 

Sir Thomas Brown declares that dextral pre-eminence 
has " no regular or certain root in nature," that it does 
not exist in children, and that in adults it is the result of 
institution and not of nature, " for it is most reasonable 
for uniformity and sundry respective uses that men should 
apply themselves to the consistent use of one ; for there 
will otherwise arise anomalous disturbances in manual 
actions, not only in civil and artificial, but also in military 
affairs and in the several actions of warfare." 

Possibly Sir T. Brown may be right in using the 
terms "regular" and "certain," but that both dextral 
and sinistral pre-eminence have a " regular " and very 
"certain" root in nature cannot be gainsaid, in those 
seventeen and three persons out of every hundred already 
alluded to, and whom nothing — not even the most drastic 
measures that can be applied — has ever been known to 
change or cure. 

Mr. Borham's case, just quoted, would appear to sub- 
stantiate Sir Thos. Browne's pronouncement, so far as the 



So per cent, neutrals are concerned ; i.e. so far as it 
demonstrated the possibility of such a cause producing 
such an effect ; but Dr. Humphrey, of Cambridge, in his 
two published lectures on " The Human Foot and the 
Human Hand," presents a somewhat modified form of 
the argument. This gentleman has given much time to 
the study of the anatomy of these members, and therefore 
speaks with authority. He replies to the question, 
" Why is man usually right-handed ? " as follows : — " I do 
not think that a clear and satisfactory explanation of the 
fact can be given. There is no anatomical reason for it 
with which we are acquainted. Is the superiority of the 
right hand real and natural, that is congenital, or is it 
merely acquired ? I incline much to the latter view, 
because all men are not right-handed ; some are left- 
handed ; some are Ambidextrous ; and in all persons, 
I believe, the left hand may be trained to as great 
expertness and strength as the right. It is so in 
those who have been deprived of their right hand in early 
life ; and most persons can do certain things with the 
left hand better than with the right. Nevertheless, though 
I think the superiority of the right hand is acquired, 
and is a result of its more frequent use, the tendenc)'- 
to use it in preference to the left is so universal that 
it would seem to be natural. I am driven, therefore, to 
the rather nice distinction that though the superiority 
is acquired, the tendency to acquire the superiority 
is natural " ! ! ! 

It is no wonder that Dr. Humphrey has recourse to a 
little finesse to help him over the difficulty of his position ; 
but, unfortunately for him, the ambiguity of his conclu- 
sions does not confirm his assumption, but the rather very 
materially weakens it. There is no necessity at this 
stage for extricating the doctor from his dilemma ; but 
we most heartily endorse his theory that right-handedness 
is acquired, when it is applied to a certain section of the 
race, as will appear shortly. 


4. Primitive Warfare, aided by Education and 


Dr. Pye-Smith, writing in 1871, suggests that the mode 
of fighting in primitive times with club or spear was 
the original cause of the selection of the right hand, 
and that this being so, education, together with hereditary 
transmission, is sufficient to explain its continuance. 

Dr. James Shaw remarks : — " From my own observa- 
tions I am convinced that right-handedness is almost 
altogether a matter of teaching. It is the vogue to make 
the child use his right hand from infancy. He will just 
as readily use his left if articles are frequently put into 
that hand and its use is unrestricted. Care has to be 
exercised not to overdo the training of the left through 
anxiety to counteract the efforts of others on the right. 
My last case is that of my own little boy, aged two and a 
half years, who can throw, pull, push, or wield a stick or 
whip equally well with either hand ; but is inclined to take 
a spoon to eat soup, &c., or a pencil to draw strokes, in 
his left hand, and is a trifle more expert with it than the 
right in the use of these articles. This tendency will, no 
doubt, with a little extra care be quite overcome. I intend 
that he shall, when old enough, learn to write with both 
hands." (Letter to the author, 1902.) 

A nameless writer in " Cornhill" (1881) thus expands the 
above idea : " Man is what he is by his own right hand. 
There was a time when he was practically Ambidextrous. 
Why and how has he become lop-sided and one-handed ? " 
Thusthewriter in "Cornhill," and he proceeds toanswer his 
own question in a somewhat curious manner, for he says, 
and seriously too, that the whole business takes its rise in 
the various contests that were waged between the men of 
those remote ages for possession of certain women whom 
they wished to make their wives. Two, three, or possibly 
more of these pristine warriors would accidentally place 
their affections upon the same fair savage ; and as all 




modes of arbitration save one were unknown in those 
benighted times, the dusky rivals would engage in a 
sanguinary battle with clubs or flint-headed spears until 
all but one survivor were slain. Now, in these struggles 
and duels — of every-day occurrence — we are told that the 
weapons were rude, and the style of warfare coarse and 
crude ; but that both weapons and warfare so conduced 
to the development of right-handedness, that in the 
opinion of the writer under review, " From this simple 
origin, then, the whole vast difference of right and left in 
civilized life takes its beginning." 

And still later. Sir James Sawyer (igoo) presents his 
version of the same idea : — " I venture to suggest, how- 
ever, that the normal position of the heart is the efficient 
cause, or, at least, a chief cause, of the prevalent right- 
handedness. In the earlier days of the human race, when 
* those may take who have the power, and those may keep 
who can,' we were a fighting people, a people fighting 
hand to hand. In such fighting, a weapon such as a stick 
or a sword was used. It is an advantage in so fighting to 
fight with a stick or with a sword which can be used by 
one arm and hand only, the other arm and hand being 
used for balance, for defensive covering, or for offensive 
seizing. The right hand is preferred for wielding of the 
stick or sword, so that the heart may be kept away, as far 
as possible, from the assault of the adversary. So arising, 
right-handedness would thence be transmitted by imita- 
tion, and by the hereditary transmission of an acquired 

Sir Daniel Wilson follows the same lines to some 
extent, when he says : — " The conclusion I am led to, as 
the result of long observation, is that the preferential use 
of the right hand is natural and instinctive with some 
persons ; that with a smaller number an equally strong 
impulse is felt prompting to the use of the left hand ; but 



Dr. Dwight replies to this so forcibly that he shall speak 
for himself: — "The theory just now in fashion — another 
of the Jack-in-the-box order — sets forth that it was dis- 
covered in the early days that wounds of the left side of 
the body were more deadly than those of the right. Hence 
it was prudent to carry the shield on the left, and the 
sword or spear in the right hand, which in time acquired 
its characteristic superiority. It seems cruel to break so 
pretty a butterfly on the wheel of criticism, but it must 
be denied, in the name of anatomy, that there is more 
than a very slight difference in the danger of wounds 
between the two sides. In the next place, even if the 
premise were correct, there is no evidence that primitive 
tribes advanced against each other like pasteboard soldiers. 
On the contrary, there is every reason to think that they 
often attacked their enemies from the side, or even from 
behind. That spears and arrows pierced the foemen from 
right to left, and from left to right, and at every degree of 
obliquity, is beyond question. To have tabulated the 
results would have taxed the skill of learned and able 
surgeon-generals ; but according to this theory, ignorant 
and brutal savages made the generalization, and appar- 
ently made it in many places. Can credulity go further ? 
But even if we admit the theory, how are we to account 
for left-handed men ? Why were they not killed off ? 
Were they wicked and perverse people who refused to 
listen to the good prehistoric surgeon-general, when he 
told them to carry the shield on the left, and who, 
through some lapse of justice, escaped their deserts? 
The latest suggestion is, that as it happens oftener on the 
right than on the left, the eighth rib is continued to the 
breast-bone instead of joining the one above it, as it ought 
to ; this would in these exceptional cases make the right 
side a httle more stable support ; but the effect at best, 
would be very slight, and the theory is purely fanciful. 

" If there be some such anatomical cause for the choice 
of the right hand — and it might be rash to say certainly 



there is not — it is at least none that to the writer's 
knowledge has ever been advanced." 

The above criticism seems to be final, from the doctor's 
standpoint. There are, however, other aspects in which 
this theory may be viewed, in which the conclusions are 
just as forcible and fatal to the hypothesis. 

It has been said that of every hundred persons born 
into the world, about seventeen of them are naturally- 
right-handed, i.e. they have an instinctive and 
irresistible impulse, from the earliest period of discrimina- 
tion, to use the right hand rather than the left, and they 
do so without effort or intent, that is naturally or 
instinctively; not quite three out of the hundred will 
possess just as strong an inclination to use the left hand in 
preference to the right, and they do so, also without effort 
or intent, i.e. instinctively or naturally : the remaining 
eighty individuals are born without any pronounced 
preferential impulse towards either hand. The legitimate 
inference from this is that the eighty unbiassed persons 
will be amenable to education, and can be made either 
right-handed, left-handed, or two-handed as their teachers 
shall decide. This proportion of right, left, and either- 
handed people may be accepted as approximately correct 
— and in the discussion it will be received as such. Then 
how does this fact bear upon the proposition that present 
day right-handedness is the result of education and 
training ? It certainly has a considerable influence in 
deciding the future manual skill of the eighty neutral 
infants — though there are other powerful elements and 
determining factors, as we shall see later on, which go to 
produce the right-handed man ; but what about the 
others ? The seventeen biassed ones will grow up right- 
handed without the aid of education or training ; they are 
born so, and do not need the education ; whilst for the 
three left-handed unfortunates (so contemplated by the 
majority of their fellows), must we regard them as 
exceptions that prove the rule ? There is much to 


support the idea that right-handedness can be, and is 
effected through education, for we find pianists, surgeons, 
jugglers, completely successful in training the left hand 
to an equal efficiency and dexterity with the right — indeed 
to such an extent that none but the performer himself can 
detect any difference. On the other hand, it is an 
undoubted truth that neither training, education nor 
pressure of the sternest kind can either cure or modify 
pronounced one-handedness, be it dextral or sinistral. 
Sir D. Wilson records an instance of two parents who 
were resolved that their children should not become left- 
handed (as they themselves were), and hence with their 
first infant, a boy, they adopted such measures as they 
thought would be successful in preventing what they 
looked upon as a misfortune or calamity. When, there- 
fore, the first manifestations of a sinistral preference were 
recognized, the child's left hand was confined, bound up 
or tied behind him, and this coercive treatment was 
persisted in to such an extent that it was feared the limb 
was permanently injured. It was all in vain ; when the 
arm was released, that moment it asserted its superiority; 
and the case is typical, for, as we have said, in no 
authenticated instance has a declared or recognized bias 
been removed or counteracted, and it has been found as 
impossible to transform a sinistral hand into the dexter 
and vice versa, as it would be to train the eye to detect 
sounds, or the ear to distinguish colours. 

Then, again, with the eighty unbiassed persons, whilst 
education, supplementing the pressure and influence of 
both nature and mother, will account for the right-handed- 
ness of civilized nations, how could, and can, education 
assert itself in heathen or barbarous races where schools 
are not, and where any systematic instruction is quite 
unknown ? And what about the women ? Surely our 
theorists are neglecting the most important element in 
the controversy ! It is the mothers who exercise the 
greatest influence on the children and make them what 



they become. Originally, even as now, women are far 
more two-handed in dexterity than men, and we are forced 
to admit that primarily they must have been practically 
Ambidextrous. Would not their influence and example 
have completely counteracted the tendency to right- 
handedness which rare occasions for fighting by the men 
on behalf of a prospective wife might create ? Surely 
these dusky warriors were not fighting for wives every day 
of their lives, every month, or even every year ! And 
there would be so many other occupations, in which they 
themselves would daily engage, to command the use of 
both hands, and in which two-handed skill would be of 
the utmost value, as to effectually destroy the ephemeral 
bias that a few days' fighting might produce. We say 
that the girls and women, who far outnumber the men, 
constitute a factorial obstacle and difficulty in this theory 
of warfare and education, &c., that is almost insurmount- 
able, and that at any rate, as yet, has not been taken into 
calculation. Female influence is all but paramount, and 
if, as Stanley tells us, the savages of Central Africa 
find it to their advantage to retain the Ambidexterity 
of both hands unimpaired, so that they can throw the 
spear or (and) hurl the knobstick equally truly with either 
hand, we may be sure that primeval savages would be 
quite as intelligent and competent to appreciate and 
retain it also. 

Obviously it follows that in any kind of warfare — more 
especially in the personal contests of which the "Cornhill" 
contributor speaks — dexterity with the left hand would 
frequently give the combatant an overwhelming advantage 
were his adversary unable to oppose to him an equal 
sinistral skill ; so this entire argument fails to establish 
its claim to our acceptance on each and every count, more 
particularly when it is remembered as incontrovertible 
truth, that it is just as easy to fight well, and perfectly 
well, with the left hand and arm as with the right ; that 
the 700 left-handed Benjamites were the finest band of 


soldiers in the Israelitish nation ; and that for a man to 
be able to fight with both hands at once equally well, and 
to fight perfectly with his remaining hand (whichever it 
may be) when the other has been placed hors de combat 
must give him a value and superiority that his one-handed 
fellow or adversary can never hope to approach, much 
less rival. 

5. Hereditary Impulse. 

Mr. R. A. Lundie is so convinced " by frequent experi- 
ence" that the peculiarity of left-handedness is hereditary, 
" that we could not be much surprised if a race were met 
with in which left-handedness was the rule and not the 

Mr. R. A. Lithgow writes : — " As a proof of this 
hereditary predisposition, I have only to refer to my own 
family, where the eldest son for three generations at least 
has been left-handed, viz. my paternal grandfather, my 
father, and myself ; the first mentioned being the best 
marksman of his part of the country, although he fired 
from his left shoulder, as I do myself." 

Dr. D. J. Cunningham believes one-handedness to be 
hereditary, whether it be dextral or sinistral. " Left- 
handedness appears to be hereditary and to run in 
families ; " and he cites the following very curious cases 
in support of his opinion : — 

" Aim6 Pere gives two very remarkable instances of 
left-handed families, (i) A left-handed man married a 
left-handed wife. Of the five children which were born 
of this marriage, four were left-handed, and one, a daughter, 
was right-handed. There were also three cousins of this 
family who were left-handed. (2) A sailor who was left- 
handed, had a right-handed father and a left-handed 
mother. He had seven brothers and six sisters, all of 
whom were left-handed. In the family of the mother, the 
father, two girls, and three boys were left-handed ; in the 
family of the father, one brother was left-handed, and he 



had five children, all of whom were left-handed. In this 
family, therefore, there were twenty-five left-handed 
individuals." (Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 
p. 280.) 

And again : — " Right-handedness is an inherited quality 
in the same sense that the potential power of articulate 
speech in man and of song in the bird are inherited 
possessions." (Journal, p. 281.) Also, *' That the use of 
the left hand is transmitted from parent to child, and so, 
like other peculiarities, is, to some extent, hereditary is 
undoubted." (Sir Daniel Wilson.) 

A Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, in a short 
letter to the "British Medical Journal," states that his 
" mother was left-handed " and his " father right-handed. 
I am, as a surgeon. Ambidextrous. My eldest girl is left- 
handed ; my second girl is also left-handed ; my third 
child, a big strong boy, absolutely left-handed ; and my 
fourth, a girl, is utterly left-handed too." 

Dr. W. B. Hadden, F.R.C.P., states that he has "seen 
occasional instances of hereditary preferential use of the 
left hand," and this has been the experience of scores, nay 
hundreds, of other medical men. But what is to be said 
of Dr. Lundie's conviction, of Mr. Lithgow's proof, of the 
personal case given by the F.R.C.S., when we read the 
account of Dr. Ogle's labours, which we reproduce in 
extenso, being so valuable, because embracing so many 
individuals taken promiscuously ? Dr. Ogle " went through 
the tedious task of asking 2,000 consecutive hospital 
patients (1,000 men and 1,000 women) whether they were 
right or left handed. Of the 2,000 no less than eighty- 
five were left-handed (that is per cent.). Of the whole 
eighty-five, no more than twelve had a left-handed 
parent." So that out of nearly a hundred left-handed 
individuals taken from 2,000 consecutive hospital patients, 
I4'i per cent, only could trace the pecuharity to their 

This very independent, but also comprehensive, test 


would seem to dispose finally of the " Hereditary " theory, 
although Dr. Ogle's next recorded investigations are 
equally strong in supporting the view that " left-handed- 
ness " affects certain families, whilst it leaves the majority 
of families unmolested. 

" Of fifty-seven left-handed persons of whom I made 
inquiries as to their relations, no less than twenty-seven 
knew of one or more left-handed relations within the 
degree of first cousin. Most of these fifty-seven were 
hospital patients, and these were rarely informed as to 
the whole number of their uncles, aunts, and cousins. 
But even as it is, in practically half of the left-handed 
cases, the ' affection ' was sporadic in the family." 

Dr. Ogle gathers from these results " that left-handed- 
ness resembles abnormalities of bodily structure in its 
running in families." It resembles them also in another 
way, viz. by attacking the two sexes with different 
frequency. "Of the i,ooo men of whom I made in- 
quiries, fifty-seven were left-handed; of the i,ooo women, 
only twenty-eight. In other words, this peculiarity is 
twice as common in men as in women. Now a precisely 
similar phenomenon is observable in the case of un- 
doubted malformations, such as congenital talipes, which 
affects three boys to one girl ; extroversion of the bladder 
in eight boys to three girls, and polydactylism in two men 
to one woman. Inversion of the viscera similarly is more 
often found in men than women." 

All the foregoing evidence, it will be seen, relates to 
left-handedness, which peculiarity is distinctly proved not 
to be hereditary, but to be irregular and sporadic. Now, 
if left-handedness, which is an incurable affection, is not 
transmitted hereditarily, neither can right-handedness be, 
for in its pronounced form it is an exactly similar irregu- 
larity or abnormality, only it affects the other hand and 
is more commonly met with, in the ratio of about five to 

It cannot be denied that in some cases left-handed 



parents have left-handed children, but it is much more 
usual to find their children right-handed ; and quite as 
common, if not indeed more so, to meet with right-handed 
parents having left-handed offspring. 

Surely, if heredity were a determining factor in the 
product, these constant and numerous violations of the 
law could not occur. There might be occasional devia- 
tions from the parent type, but they would be conspicuous 
by their infrequency, and not as at present by their great 
predominance ; and, lastly, cases of prolonged hereditary 
descent or of a series of left-handed generations in any 
one family are so extremely rare as to be practically 
unknown, whilst, according to the theory, they ought to 
be just as prevalent and familiar. 

The theory of hereditary transmission therefore falls to 
the ground, being contrary to experience and unsupported 
by facts. 

6. A Mechanical Reason. 

Professor Buchanan, of Glasgow, is responsible for this 
theory of "A Mechanical Reason," which he enunciates 
as follows : — " The inclination of the * Centre of Gravity ' 
of the body to the right side confers a mechanical 
advantage on the limbs of the right side in their complex 
movements, while it is mechanically disadvantageous to 
the limbs of the left side in the analogous movements 
which they perform." This law, he observes, is based on 
the following premises : — 

1. The centre of gravity of the body is situated, not in 
the mesial plane, but to the right of it. 

2. A deep inspiration is necessary to every great 
muscular effort. 

3. There is a shifting of the common centre of gravity 
of the body obliquely backward and to the right on 
making a deep inspiration. 

4. More general view of the utility of the act of 


inspiration in shifting the position of the centre of gravity 
in subservience to the movements of the body. 

5. The kind of respiration which accompanies the 
action of the hmbs of the right side is more favourable to 
sustained muscular exertion than the respiration which 
accompanies the action of the limbs on the left side ; and 
the argument he gives in these words: — " It thus appears 
that the preferential use of the right hand is not a 
congenital, but an acquired, attribute of man. It does 
not exist in the earliest periods of life." Nevertheless he 
thinks that " no training could ever render the left hand 
of ordinary men equal in strength to the right " — [this 
assumption is quite contrary to all physical law and to all 
common experience ; for it is obvious to every one that 
were the left hand to be subject to the requisite training, 
exercises, and practice, and the right to a similar extent 
neglected, the latter would prove weaker, whilst the 
former, the left hand, would proportionately develop and 
increase in power and dexterity. Says Dr. Cunningham : — 
" It is matter of common knowledge that the more 
extensive use to which the right upper limb is put reacts 
upon its development and causes it to assume more 
massive proportions than its fellow on the left side " 
(Journal of Anthropological Institute, vol. xxxii. p. 279), 
and it follows that if the operation be reversed, the left 
arm and hand will acquire the superior muscular and 
massive development instead of the right] — for, "it depends 
upon mechanical laws arising out of the structure of 
the human body." This " Mechanical Theory " is thus 
explained. In infancy and early childhood there is no 
difference in power between the two sides of the body ; 
but so soon as the child becomes capable of bringing the 
whole muscular force of the body into play "he becomes 
conscious of the superior power of his right side ... a 
power not primarily due to any superior force or develop- 
ment of the muscles of that side, but to a purely 
mechanical cause. He cannot put forth the full strength 



of his body without first making a deep inspiration ; 
and by making a deep inspiration and maintaining 
afterwards the chest in an expanded state, which is 
essential to the continuance of his muscular effort, he 
so alters the mechanical relations of the two sides of 
the body that the muscles of his right side act with a 
superior efficacy ; and to render the inequality still 
greater the muscles of the left side act with a mechanical 

Hence the preference for the right side whenever 
unusual muscular power is required, and with the greater 
exercise of the muscles of the right side, the consequent 
development with the full predominance of the right side 
is the result. 

This theory is based not merely on the disposition of 
the lungs of the right side, but on these further facts, viz. 
that the right lung is more capacious than the left, having 
three lobes, whilst the left has only two ; that the liver, 
the heaviest organ of the body, is on the same side ; and 
that the common centre of gravity of the body shifts more 
or less towards the right according to the greater or less 
inspiration of the lungs, and the consequent inclination 
of the liver resulting from the greater expansion of the 
right side of the chest. The Doctor continues : — " It may 
be asked, if men use their right hands, not from habit, but 
from a mechanical necessity, how it happens that some- 
times men use their left hands rather than their right. 
It seems to me probable that many such cases, as in the 
left-hand slingers of the tribe of Benjamin, are merely 
cases of Ambidextrousness, where the habit of using the 
left side, in whatever way begun, has given to the muscles 
of that side such a degree of development as enables them 
to compete with the muscles of the right side in spite of 
the mechanical disadvantages under which they labour. 
There is an awkwardness in the muscular efforts of such 
men which seems to indicate the struggle against Nature. 
There arc, however, unquestionably, as I believe, men 


who use their left limbs with all the facility and efficiency 
with which other men use their right. 

" Pathological Anatomy furnishes us with a complete 
explanation of this anomaly in certain cases. There are 
men born, who may grow up and enjoy perfect health, in 
whom the position of all the thoracic and abdominal 
viscera is reversed. There are three lobes of the left 
lung, and only two of the right, the liver is on the left 
side, and the heart on the right, and so forth. Now, indi- 
viduals so constituted, must use their left limbs most 
effectively from a mechanical necessity, just as other men 
use their right. 

" There are other malformations and pathological 
lesions, particularly those occurring in early life, which 
must naturally influence the relative power of the two 
sides. Such are : diseases of the right lung ; contraction 
of either side of the chest from pleurisy ; enlargement of 
the spleen, particularly when, as often happens, it is 
accompanied with a diminished size of the liver ; distor- 
tions of the spine, with consequent displacement of the 
viscera ; and many others." 

Sir Daniel Wilson so effectually disposes of this 
hypothesis of Dr. Buchanan's that we reproduce his 
criticism almost verbatim. He says : — " Herein may 
possibly be a slight predisposing cause leading to a 
preferential use of the right side. But the evidence 
adduced altogether fails to account for what, on such a 
theory, become abnormal deviations from the natural 
action of the body ; and the unsatisfactory nature of the 
theory, as a solution of right-handedness, is placed 
beyond doubt when it is applied to these cases of 
deviation from the normal action which is assumed to 
result from it and to render right-handedness a mechanical 
necessity. There are men enjoying perfect health in 
whom the position of all the thoracic and abdominal 
viscera is reversed. There are three lobes of the left lung, 
and only two of the right ; the liver is on the left side 



and the heart on the right. I have long been accustomed 
to take note of left-handedness, and have never known a 
case where it could be accounted for in this way, while 
cases of ascertained transposition of the viscera are on 
record without any corresponding left-handedness. The 
cases hitherto observed are in all so very few, that with- 
out the invariable accompaniment of the left-sided lungs 
with left-hand action, the argument is of no value. 

" Moreover, in normal cases and under normal con- 
ditions, observation fails to corroborate the theory. 
Taking particulars of ship porters in the lading and 
unlading of vessels, I found that 137 carried the burden 
on their left shoulders and eighty-one only on the right, 
vi^hilst on another occasion the figures were seventy-six 
left to forty-five right, which is absolutely the same ratio. 
In the case of loading cordwood, where the natural action 
of the right hand is to place the burden on the left 
shoulder, and where, therefore, the use of the right 
shoulder implies the use of the left hand, the numbers 
were sixty-five using the left shoulder to thirty-six using 
the right. Here, therefore, a practical test of a very 
simple yet valuable kind fails to confirm the idea of any 
such mechanical cause inherent in the constitution of the 
human frame, tending to a uniform exertion of the right 
side, and the passive employment of the left in all muscular 

Since the question of " Transposed Viscera " is treated 
in a separate section, it would be out of place to contmue 
the discussion in connection with the present argument. 

We may take it, then, that the " mechanical " assump- 
tion does not harmonize with ascertained facts, and does 
not satisfy the conditions required by them. 

7. Organic Structure. 

There is quite an imposing arra)' of writers holding the 
view that one-handedness is caused by some peculiarity 


of organic structure. What that pecuharity is they do 
not undertake to say, but that their contention is correct 
in relation to those 3 per cent, left-handed and seventeen 
right-handed persons in every hundred, already alluded to, 
must be conceded almost without qualification. 

Aristotle contends that the organs are more powerful 
on the right side. 

Dr. Wyeth, of New York, declares that " Man is 
right-handed by preference, as a result of his anatomical 

Sir Daniel Wilson's observation — after he has taken a 
review of the numerous conflicting theories as to the 
cause or causes of right-handedness — is that " the in- 
evitable conclusion forced on the inquirer is that the bias 
in which this predominant law of dexterity originates 
must be traceable to some speciality of organic structure." 
As to the nature of this special organic structure, he 
concludes : — " It is curious indeed how physiologists and 
anatomists have shifted their ground from time to time 
in their attempts at a solution of what has been very 
summarily dismissed by others as a very simple problem, 
until, as Dr. Struthers remarks : ' It has ceased to attract 
the notice of physiologists only because it has baffled 
satisfactory explanation.' " 

The position taken up by these authorities is so general 
and indefinite, and, as we also think, so obvious and 
unanswerable, that it would be superfluous to criticize it. 
And it is not perhaps premature to state here and now 
that our own assured conviction is that both right and 
left-handedness are entirely due to some peculiarity of 
organic Structure or of Anatomical development. More 
of this anon. 

8. A Natural Endowment, or an Original 


Sir Benjamin Brodie affirms that right-handedness is 
" an Original Instinct." 



Sir Chas. Bell asserts that the left side is more subject 
to attacks of disease than the right, and " on the whole 
the preference of the right hand is not the effect of habit, 
but is a natural provision, and is bestowed for a very 
obvious purpose." 

Dr. Dwight expresses his ideas on the matter in the 
following words : — " The impulse to use a particular hand 
rests on something more subtle than mere size. All 
attempts to account for it by purely mechanical theories 
have failed completely. It is an instinct, an inborn 
impulse, with which reason and education have nothing 
to do. Side by side with this instinct exist the various 
departures from symmetry which have been discussed. 
Some of them, such as the finger-markings, are con- 
genital ; others, as the unevenness of the face, appear 
later, and very probably are influenced by mechanical 
causes ; others, again, like the unequal development of 
the two sides of the brain, perhaps depend on the laws 
regulating growth. The impulse to prefer one side would, 
in many cases, lead to its greater development, but, as 
just shown, it does not in all. 

" Like other instincts, that of right-handedness has its 
advantages. It is clearly a good thing that when a 
movement is to be made, there should be no hesitation 
which side is to start first ; that we should not stand 
fixed, like the hypothetical donkey, starving, between two 
equidistant and equally attractive bundles of hay. It is 
possible that the want of symmetry (itself to some extent 
due to unequal use) may in turn help the manifestation 
of this impulse to use one side, but the impulse exists 
first. This is proved by the occurrence of left-handed- 
ness, and of exaggerated right-handedness, even in the 
nursery. Education, though it cannot uproot the ten- 
dency, restrains it. The characteristics of an educated 
left-handed person, which would first attract attention, 
are more likely to come from an uncommon ability to use 
the left hand, than from any deficiency in the right. 


Thus a billiard-player who makes a shot with his left 
hand as well as with his right, was probably originally 
left-handed. He is called Ambidextrous ; but the fact is, 
that his right hand has been educated as the left hands of 
most people have not. His right arm may even be the 
larger. The inborn impulse does not show, but it still 
exists none the less. The most perfect Ambidexter I ever 
knew, whose skill in writing and drawing with either 
hand is proverbial, has declared that he cannot drive a 
nail, carve, or whittle with his right hand. 

" Want of symmetry between the sides is something 
essentially different from right-handedness. The latter 
is seen in function, not necessarily in form. Wrongly 
considered a human characteristic, it is found more or 
less developed in animals, and something analogous to it 
exists even in plants." [In the previous chapter on 
Symmetry and Asymmetry this right-handedness, or 
right-sidedness (to be more exact) in animals has been 
disputed, if not indeed satisfactorily disproved.] " To 
call right-handedness an instinct may seem to some an 
evasion of the question, an explanation which does not 
explain, but this criticism is not just. We, at least, have 
seen what right-handedness is not. We call certain 
phenomena electrical, though we do not know what 
electricity is ; and in the same way we may call others 
instinctive, though we must content ourselves with de- 
fining instinct as an inborn impulse to certain actions, 
for the benefit of the individual, or his descendants, 
depending neither on reason nor experience. When we 
understand instinct, then, and no sooner, we may hope 
to understand right-handedness, and to know why it is 
sometimes reversed." 

Dr. Dwight is at such pains to explain his meaning 
and to establish his theory that his remarks deserve 
special recognition, and a separate reply before the 
general criticism, which will deal with all three exponents 




Being firmly convinced that right-handedness is an 
instinct, he is so anxious and determined to prove the 
advantages of instinct in general, and of this right-handed 
instinct in particular, that he actually enlists the services 
of the hypothetical donkey to clench the nail of his argu- 
ment : — " It is clearly a good thing that, when a move- 
ment is to be made, there should be no hesitation which 
side is to start first, that we should not stand Fixed like 
the hypothetical, &c., &c." 

Surely the Doctor is joking ; for he would otherwise be 
in danger of insulting the common sense of his least 
intelligent reader by supposing the possibility of such an 
absurdity as a person hesitating, like an ass, which hand 
to use first, in any office or function where both were 
equally available, and both were also equally competent 
to act. Even as things are under existing conditions, do 
we experience the least degree of uncertainty, much less 
of hesitancy, in the preferential use of a hand in the 
common every-day duties of life, say at the dinner-table ? 
Is there not such an instantaneous recognition of the 
fittest, or most appropriate hand to employ (in every 
known case of dual possibility) that it may be called 
instinctive ? 

As an illustration, from an analogous act that occurs 
many thousands of times in every man's life, when a 
person is standing and he wishes to remove, or locate, 
himself elsewhere by walking, does he assume the attitude 
of the proverbial " brayer " to ask which foot he shall 
move first, or which foot is the preferable one to start 
with ? The whole proposition is ridiculous in the extreme. 
If the Doctor had thought for a moment, he would have 
seen the weakness of his suggestion. Does the monkey, 
for instance, in any of its manifold and marvellous 
evolutions (we take the Coaita as an example) pause or 
hesitate ? Dare it, could it, in the lightning-like move- 
ments that characterize it, stay to decide whether its 
amazingly delicate and prehensile tail or its hands should 


grasp an object or seize a branch ; and if the hands (it has 
Four so-called), does it wait a second time to determine 
which of them is the right one to use ? Incredible ! ! 

Therefore, if in these exceptionally rapid motions, with 
Five available, and equally available, members, all 
equally adapted for the purposes of swinging, grasping, 
&c., the Coaita is never for a moment at a loss which 
one to use at the instant, is it conceivable that man with 
only Two hands, and with his sedate and comparatively 
slow movements, will, if made Ambidextrous, become 
extinct through the law that " He Who Hesitates is 
Lost " working on the race to decimate and destroy ; and 
because he is so continually mixed up with his two 
dextrous hands (an evident superfluity of good things !) 
that he positively loses his powers of discrimination, and, 
overwhelmed by his two-handed faculty, is unable to 
decide which of his manual limbs he shall use on any 
critical occasion ? Perish the thought. This suggestion 
by the Doctor, therefore, must be dismissed as unfounded, 
fanciful, extravagant, and impossible. 

These three authorities are either ignorant of, dispute, 
or ignore the fact that only twenty persons out of every 
100 are born with this inherent one-handed bias which 
emphatically differentiates the two hands, rendering the 
right hand so obviously superior in seventeen of those 
persons, and making the left hand equally superior in 
three of them ; and that the remaining eighty, or four- 
fifths of the entire race, are uninfluenced by any such 
irresistible impulse. Is it not quite contrary to reason 
and to nature, that the departures from any normal type 
shall be taken as characteristic of that type ; that the one- 
fifth shall be accounted the " Instinct," the " Natural 
Endowment," and that the four-fifths shall be relegated 
to the back place as malformations, aberrations, or even 
as monstrosities ? 

No ! We must maintain, reasoning from analogy, that 
man was originally created practically symmetrical ; that 



the functions and powers of the dual limbs and organs 
were also practically identical. " The primitive con- 
dition we must suppose to have been one of perfectly 
symmetrical structure and Ambidextral function, for this 
is the condition of all the higher vertebrates which can be 
best compared with man ; complete bilateral symmetry of 
all the organs is the state of the human embryo at an 
early stage," and therefore that right-handedness cannot 
be an " Instinct or Endowment " as suggested. 

Moreover, and lastly, an Instinct or a Natural 
Endowment would necessarily show itself and assert 
itself in the child from the very beginning of conscious 
manipulation. A Duckling swims perfectly at the 
first attempt ; original instincts do not develop slowly 
by cultivation, they act perfectly at the earliest stages, 
and hence right-handedness, if an endowment, should 
appear with the child's first efforts and be as distinctive 
as it is said to be instinctive ; but since this dextral pre- 
eminence does not show itself as a rule in the first two or 
three years of the infant's life, it can hardl}' be deemed an 
original instinct or a natural endowment. 

g. Visceral Distribution, or the Unequal 
Distribution of the Viscera. 

This theory, dating back as far as 1828, when it was 
advanced by Dr. Von Baer — afterwards it was adopted by 
Forster and since then advocated by several — runs gener- 
ally as follows : — " The development of right-handedness 
is due to the difference in weight of the two lateral halves 
of the viscera of the human body, which tends to bring 
more strain on one side than on the other, and so to give 
more exercise to that side." 

Sir James Sawyer observes : — " It is very likely that Sir 
John Struther's reason ... for the general use of right- 
handedness, may have some validity, namely, that the 
thoracic and abdominal contents of the right side of the 


vertical middle plane of the human body are heavier than 
the contents on the left side, so that the greater weight 
on the right side leads to resting most on the right leg, and 
from the pillar of support we naturally use the right upper 
limb preferentially." 

Sir John Struthers took great pains to accurately weigh 
the viscera on both sides of the body, and he found, 
after the most carefully conducted experiments, that the 
viscera on the right side are some 22f oz. heavier than 
those on the left side, that this difference is reduced some 
7f oz. by the influence of the contents of the stomach, 
leaving a clear preponderance of at least 15 oz. in favour 
of the right side. 

He takes separately the liver, spleen, pancreas, 
kidneys, lungs, heart, great bloodvessels and intestines, 
the complete figures being : — 

Total weight of the viscera on the right side 



Total weight of the viscera on the left side 



Visceral preponderance of right side 



Deduct for contents of stomach . 



Total preponderance of right side 



After devoting some paragraphs to " The Symmetry 
and Equipoise of the right and left sides zoologically and 
developmentally considered," the learned author con- 
cludes : — " Meanwhile I content myself with having shown 
that from the arrangement of the viscera, the body is con- 
siderably heavier on the right side than on the left, with 
the consequent position of the centre of gravity to the 
right side of the middle line, whatever the result of this 
fact may be. As a physical agent constantly in operation 
in the erect position it cannot but exert an influence on 
the attitude and movements of the body and limbs and 
on the muscles concerned in them." 

Mr. Shaw sets forth his view of the case with much 
lucidity and force in a paper contributed to " Knowledge " 



some years ago. We briefly reproduce his argument. 
He declares that : — 

1. There is a difference in lung structure and capacity 
when we compare the two sides. The left lung has two 
lobes, the right has three, so that if we inhale 240 cubic 
inches of air, 130 will be absorbed by the right lung 
and only no inches by the left lung. By this greater 
expansion of the right lung, the liver, which is about 
4 lbs. in weight, is pressed or shifted more to the right 
side, and this tends also to shift the centre of gravity to 
that side. Then also the stomach and spleen incline to 
follow the liver. 

2. It has been ascertained by frequent tests that 
the viscera of the abdomen and chest weigh about i lb. 
heavier on the right side than on the left. Evidently, 
then, the right foot will be " more leant upon," and if so 
it will form a steadier basis of action for the right arm 
than for the left. In accordance with this, a nurse carries 
a child on her left arm for two reasons ; first to balance 
the greater weight of her right side, and, second, to have 
the right arm free for exercise. 

From these two premises Mr. Shaw argues that right- 
handedness thus inevitably ensues. 

There are two very fatal objections to this plausible 
theory, and the first is that it assumes evidently that 
children are not right or left handed before they learn to 
stand. Such an assumption is opposed to our common 
knowledge, and is clearly disproved by the experiments of 
Dr. J. M. Baldwin, which will be described further on, 
and of other investigators. 

The second objection is even stronger and more un- 
answerable. If the theory is sound, then all persons 
affected by transposition of the viscera must of necessity 
be left-handed. The following cases are reported and 
authenticated (one each) by the following gentlemen : — 
Drs. Gachet, Gery, Schultze, Pye-Smith, Lees (a boy of 
eight in 1876), Seymour Taylor (a man of eighteen in 


i8gi), Heron (a man of forty in i8gi) Cheadle (a boy of 
sixteen in 1892), E. C. Carter (an adult in 1893), and Sir 
W. R. Cowers (in 1902), and in every one of these cases 
the persons were right-handed. 

" Aime Pere has collected details in regard to a large 
number (about 200) of cases of reversed viscera. Looking 
over these, I found twenty-eight in which a record of right 
or left handedness is given. Twenty-three were right- 
handed and five were left-handed." (Cunningham.) 

Some other cases also have been reported, as stated by 
the Medical Press, but only in one solitary instance was 
that individual left-handed. And Dr. Pye-Smith writes 
me that he has met with further cases of transposed 
viscera, but not one so affected was left-handed, " and in 
all the left-handed persons I have had an opportunity of 
examining there was no transposition." Dr. James Shaw 
also informs me that of the " great many left-handed 
people " whom he has met, not one of them was other 
than normal with respect to visceral arrangement. Once 
more Dr. W. B. Hadden relates a striking case in one of his 
patients who, though having transposition of the viscera, 
was right-handed, whilst her twin sister with normal 
arrangement was left-handed. Stranger still, these sisters 
had two twin brothers, one of whom was right-handed, 
and the other left-handed, but neither of them had any 
displacement of the viscera. 

A similar phenomenon is seen in the lower animals, for 
Dr. HoUis tells us that: — "The monkey tribes, the 
present representatives of our Simian ancestry (if such 
they may be) use their right and left limbs indiscriminately 
to grasp any object offered to them. . . . The thoracic 
viscera of some specimens of monkeys preserved at the 
museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, clearly 
prove that the right lungs of these animals bear about 
the same relations to their left, as regards their volumes, 
as do our own. The marmot, again, I have observed to 
use its left limbs as readily as the right, and yet there is a 



greater difference between the proportions of its right and 
left lungs than there is even in man ; whilst in the 
little musk-deer, the right lung is twice the capacity of 
the left," nevertheless all these animals are perfectly 
free from bias to either side in their free and unrestrained 

Also Dr. Cunningham : — " In the ape, especially in the 
anthropoid members of the group, the viscera are dis- 
posed in a manner very similar to that characteristic of 
man. In the ape, the centre of gravity also lies to the 
right of the mesial plane, and seeing that the hand is 
not utterly devoted to locomotion, but is endowed with 
many of the capabilities which distinguish the human 
hand, it would not be unreasonable to expect a certain 
amount of preference developed for the use of the right 
upper limb." (Journal, p. 285.) 

Mr. Shaw, and those who agree with him, urge their 
case and plead their cause with so much ingenuit}' and 
force, that one is almost compelled to grant that there is 
at least some virtue in their hypothesis ; but in the face 
of these substantiated cases of transposition of the viscera, 
where the effects are so contrary to the hypothesis, it is 
impossible to accept the theory, or to credit the right 
side preponderance of, say, i lb., avoirdupois, with any 
part whatever in the production of right-handedness. 

And yet Sir J. Struthers supports Mr. Shaw, and is of 
opinion that " this deviation of the centre of gravity, from 
the unequal weight of the viscera on the two sides of the 
body, furnishes the most probable solution ! " 

10. Arrangement of the Bloodvessels. 

The celebrated Dr. Hyrtl, anatomist of Vienna, affirms 
" a correspondence between the ratio of left-handed 
persons, and the occurrence of certain deviations from the 
normal arrangement of the bloodvessels," and he gives 
statistics to support his views. 


Dr. Barclay's theory has been propounded by his pupil, 
Dr. Buchanan : — " The veins of the left side of the trunk 
and of the left inferior extremity, cross the aorta to arrive 
at the vena cava, and some obstruction to the flow of 
the blood must be produced by the pulsation of that 
artery." To this Dr. Barclay " traced indirectly the pre- 
ferential use of the right side of the body, and especially 
of the right hand and foot." " All motions," he stated, 
"produce obstruction to the circulation ; and obstruction 
from this cause must be more frequently produced in the 
right side than in the left, owing to its being more 
frequently used. But the venous circulation on the left 
side is retarded by the pulsation of the aorta, and there- 
fore the more frequent motions of the right side were 
intended to render the circulation of the two sides 

Sir Daniel Wilson's comment on this is that " the idea, 
if correctly reported, is a curious one, as it traces right- 
handedness to the excess of the compensating force for an 
assumed inferior circulation — pertaining naturally to the 
right side." 

At the same time it must be confessed that this theory 
which declared right-handedness to be natural and left- 
handedness to be abnormal, or a deviation from natural 
law, is very plausible, as it accounts both for right-handed 
and left-handed people, but it must not be forgotten that 
statistics to prove the hypothesis are entirely lacking, 
and would seem also to be practically inaccessible and 

II. Brain One-sidedness. 

Dr. W. Ogle, whose valuable contribution to the dis- 
cussion we have previously alluded to, and with whose 
deductions on some practical aspects of the question it has 
been found impossible to agree, is convinced that "there 
can remain no fair doubt but that right-handedness 
depends on some predominance of the left brain, and 



that left-handedness, when it occurs, depends on a trans- 
position of this structural peculiarity, whatever it may 

Proceeding next with the inquiry as to what this " pre- 
dominance " or " difference" may consist in, the Doctor 
adduces much valuable evidence, after which his final 
pronouncement is given in the following words : — " There 
remains, then, no possible doubt but that right-handedness 
and left-handedness are associated respectively, the one 
with a more highly developed left (brain) hemisphere, the 
other with a more highly developed right one." 

The result of Mr. James Shaw's investigations is to 
convince himself that " the balance of the evidence is in 
favour of the constitution of the brain itself being a 
reason of right-hand predominance." 

Dr. W. C. Cahallhas stated his argument most forcibly 
in the "Popular Science Monthly" of New York some 
time ago. He says :— " In my belief there is a physical 
cause for this uniform habit ; a cause demonstrable 
by anatomical and physiological facts : — 

" {a) The brain (cerebrum) is divided into two hemi- 

" {b) The nerve-force and nerve-fibres which produce 
muscular action on the one side of the body have their 
origin in the opposite hemisphere of the brain. 

*' {c) The left hemisphere, from the earliest period, is 
larger and heavier than its counterpart, and the convolu- 
tions of grey matter (the reservoirs of nervous energy) are 
more numerous on this side than the right. 

" (d) This superior development of the left hemisphere 
as to weight, size, and richness of convolutions, may be 
attributed to a peculiar arrangement of the bloodvessels, 
by means of which a greater blood supply is distributed to 
the brain substance of this side. 

" {e) The arrangement of the bloodvessels to which I 
refer is the manner of origin of the right and left common 
carotid arteries. The carotid artery is a branch of the 


innominate artery on the right side, while it springs direct 
from the aorta on the left. This directness of " communi- 
cation, in addition to a larger calibre of the left carotid, 
gives the left hemisphere a decided advantage in the race 
of development. 

" In conclusion, from what we have seen, in answer to 
the question ' why are we right-handed ? ' it might be said 
because we are left-headed." 

In support of this theory, Dr. Boyd made observations 
on the patients in St. Magdalene's Hospital, and weighed 
separately the hemispheres of 200 persons. He reports 
that almost invariably the left lobe exceeded the right by 
an eighth of an ounce in weight. Dr. Wagner, however, 
found that this left lobe supremacy only occurred in 
the proportion of three to five, which is an inferiority. 

In passing, may we not observe that Dr. Boyd's experi- 
ments and results are anything but corroborative, if, as we 
are told on what seems to be reliable authority, lunatics 
are frequently left-handed ; and more than one writer on 
insanity mentions this peculiarity as a generally recog- 
nized fact. 

Still further to strengthen Dr. Cahall's position. Dr. 
Broadbent states that he has " verified the fact " (! !) by 
numerous examinations, that generally the frontal convo- 
lutions are much more complicated upon the left side 
than upon the right side of the brain — and other writers 
concur in this opinion. 

One might naturally infer from all these statements that 
this assumption of " Left-brainedness " is the correct one, 
and that we have at last arrived at a satisfactory solution 
of the problem — but, strange to say, we have evidence just 
as weighty in the opposite direction, evidence that appears 
to be quite as conclusive, and without even the ambiguity 
or uncertainty that we think attaches to Dr. Boyd's 

Professor Cunningham is remarkably emphatic in his 
opposition to this supposed superiority in weight of the 



left cerebral hemisphere, and he says : — "There is every 
reason to believe that the predominant weight ascribed to 
the left cerebral hemisphere by these authorities, is due to 
errors of observation. Braune has shown in the most 
conclusive manner that if there is any difference in weight 
between the two hemispheres, it is a difference in favour 
of the right, and not of the left. He weighed the cerebral 
hemispheres of ninety-two brains, and found that in 
fifty-seven the right hemisphere was the heavier ; in 
thirty-four the left was the heavier ; and in one case only 
were they of equal weight ; and I may add that these results 
are quite in accord with my own observations, and that 
I believe that the same conditions as to weight are present 
at all periods of growth and development. We may dis- 
miss, therefore, from our minds the possibility of left- 
brainedness being due to a greater mass of cerebral 
substance on the left side of the brain." (Lecture, p. 17.) 

Dr. Thurnam states that his weighings did not con- 
firm Dr. Boyd's observations. 

Dr. Donaldson, in his elaborate work on " The Growth 
of the Brain" (1895), remarks, (p. 276): — "Normally, 
too, the hemispheres attain nearly the same weight, and 
there is no evidence that the left hemisphere is persistently 
the heavier in a right-handed person. The reasons for these 
relations are, therefore, not evident in the present way of 
regarding the nervous system, according to which, growth 
and increase in size are associated with activity. The 
anatomical arrangement, which was originally responsible 
for this one-sidedness, has still to be investigated, in order 
to determine whether the better development of the 
afferent or efferent structures control the matter in the 
first instance, and to discover, if possible, how far the 
physiological processes in the neglected hemisphere may 
be duplicates of those in the one preferred. At the 
moment, however, it is not possible to do more than state 
the difficulty." 

The Doctor gives the following table of 301 cases, in 


which the figures, if reliable, are fatally decisive against 
the theory of weight-preponderance (p. 185) : — 

"Table giving the number of cases in which the hemi- 
spheres were equal in weight, or one of them in excess, 
in a series of Italian brains weighed by Franchesci (of 
Bologna, 1885). 

" (Difference in weight of one gramme or less is con- 
sidered equal.) 

Number of Left Brain Right Brain Left and 
Ages. Cases. greater than greater than Right equal. 

Right Brain. Left Brain. 

Males .... 10—87 157 49 5^ 57 

Females. . . 10—87 H4 43 4^ 55" 

Professor Cunningham also stated in his recent lecture 
at the Anthropological Institute, that after many long 
years of most careful examination he had not succeeded 
in discovering any superiority whatever in the left lobe, 
and, in a letter to the writer, dated October 2gth, 1902, 
he says : — " I have failed to detect any structural condition 
in the left cerebral hemisphere to account for its functional 
pre-eminence — in so far as speech and right-handedness 
are concerned. From the weight and convolutionary 
points of view, I should say that if any difference exists 
between the two hemispheres, it is in favour of the 
RIGHT," and his language is very strong as to the con- 
volutions, for he says, " I am satisfied that no amount of 
ingenuity would enable us to twist the asymmetrical 
arrangement of the convolutions into such a form as to 
give a constant and general superiority to one hemisphere 
over the other." (Lecture, p. 17.) 

The capitals are ours. Now, if Drs. Donaldson, 
Braune, Franchesci, Thurnam, and Cunningham are 
right, what becomes of the whole of Dr. Cahall's five 
notable propositions ? 

Certainly the evidence is contradictory, flatly so, and 
we have on the one side a trio of authorities dogmatically 
asserting a structural superiority in the left lobe of right- 
handed persons, with a similar and unmistakable 



superiority of the right lobe in left-handed persons ; 
whilst on the other side we have an equally distinguished, 
reliable, and still more recent quartette of specialists, who 
positively declare that there is no such organic pre- 
eminence ; the propounders of the theory give the 
results of examination of 200 brains, whilst the opposing 
investigators tabulate the figures of 392 brains of both 
sexes. Surely the most biassed jury in such a case of con- 
flicting testimony could only return a verdict of " Not 

But there is another view to take of this theory of Dr. 
Cahall's ; for evidently the argument would be incomplete 
were no reference made to the brain condition of strongly 
left-handed persons, and also of those in whom there is 
found a reversal of normal " Aorta Arches " arrange- 
ment ; and therefore Dr. Cahall goes on to inform us 
that in a certain proportion of subjects the aorta arches 
from left to right — i.e. in the contrary direction — in 
which case the innominate artery is on the left side, and 
this arrangement would consequently favour the superior 
growth of the right hemisphere of the brain and would 
predispose to the use of the left hand. 

Dr. Barclay and others accept Dr. Cahall's hypothesis, 
although they have to acknowledge that the reversal of 
the arching of the aorta does not, even very fre- 
quently, produce this superiority in the right hemisphere 
and its resultant left-handedness, which are naturally 
looked for in such cases. The difficulty is recognized, and 
the ingenious writer endeavours to get rid of it in the 
following way : — 

'* Unfortunately there have been no post-mortem 
examinations made for the purpose of examining whether 
this reverse arrangement of bloodvessels and the use of 
the left hand really do occur in the same individual, nor 
is it necessary that it should be found in every 
case, for there are other anomalies in vessel-branching 
which would favour the growth of the right hemisphere." 


Alas for the Doctor, who would seem to have got a 
little mixed in this winding up of the argument. The 
ambiguity of his inference stultifies his own premises ; 
and Sir Charles Bell, M.D,, considers (with reference to 
the entire supposition) that " this, however, is assigning 
a cause altogether unequal to the effect, and presenting 
too confined a view of the subject. It partakes of the 
common error of seeking in the mechanism, the explana- 
tion of phenomena which have a deeper origin. 

If the hypothesis has not been demonstrated by a 
sufficiency of observations and experiments proving that 
the greater lobe of the brain invariably determines the 
dexter hand — be it right or left — the theory must remain 
in the region of unproved speculations. 

That there is a subtle connection and a vital one 
between the conformation of the brain lobes and one- 
handedness appears to be indisputable, but the nature of 
that connection remains to be discovered and defined. 

On this point we have some valuable remarks from 
Sir W. R. Gowers, who informs us that there are four 
speech centres or regions, viz. : — i. for the motion of 
speech ; 2. for the motion of writing ; 3. for the per- 
ception of words ; and 4. for the perception of seen (or 
visible) words. Of these, two transcend the others in 
primary importance and influence, — namely, those for 
hearing and utterance. "The relation of the processes 
for language to the left side of the brain is unquestionably 
connected with right-handedness, since persons who are 
left-handed present the same defects of speech in 
disease of the right hemisphere of the brain as right- 
handed persons do in the disease of the left. They 
are right-brained. A related fact is also important 
for those concerned in education. In children, destruc- 
tion of the left motor speech centre never causes lasting 
loss of speech, as it does in adults. However complete 
the loss may be at first, speech is regained, and before 
long it is difficult to detect any imperfection. There 



must therefore be a capacity for the acquisition of 
voluntary speech processes on the right side in the young 
which there is not in the adult. These facts show that 
the exclusive relation of voluntary speech to the left 
brain is due to the disuse for speech of the right brain ; 
that this disuse varies in its degree in different persons ; 
that it seems to occur in the transition from childhood 
to youth, and that it is related to the use of the right 

To conclude the pronouncements concerning this theor}' 
of Brain One-sidedness, we have to present the reader with 
the very interesting and unique experiments of Professor 
J. Mark Baldwin, who gives the details of the tests with 
his five months old baby ; the experiments extended from 
the fifth to the ninth month in her life. There is no 
evidence forthcoming as to whether the infant was in 
charge of a nurse, and if so, whether any precautions were 
,taken to prevent any bias being imparted by direct in- 
fluence or otherwise upon it during the intervals between 
the experiments. However, we shall return to this part 
of the subject later on. 

No. of 

No. of 










February loth to March r4th 






March 14th to April 14th 






April I4ih to May 14th . 






May 14th to June loth . 











The above tests consisted in offering the infant some 
desirable object, toy or other, holding the same within 
easy reach of — and about equidistant from — each hand. 
Mr. Baldwin observes that there is evidently no preference 
shown in these results for either hand, hence, he varied 
the experiment so as to cause or necessitate a " longer 
reach " involving somewhat " hard straining " and greater 
muscular effort. These modified tests extended from 


May 26th to June loth, about a fortnight, and the outcome 
was a considerable alteration in the figures. 

No. of No. of Right Left Both 
1S90. Series. Tests. Hand. Hand. Hands. 

May 26th to June loth -32 80 74 5 i 

The sudden and marked preferential use of the right 
hand continued when the conditions of test were pro- 
longed and varied as to colour, stimulus, &c., and the 
general conclusions arising from the entire course may be 
stated as follows : — 


" I. No preference was shown for either hand so long 
as there was no violent muscular exertion demanded. 

" 2. The tendency under the same conditions to use 
both hands simultaneously was about double the tendency 
to use either. 

" 3. A distinct preference for the right hand in all * 
violent efforts was exhibited in the seventh and eighth 
months ; right-handedness, in fact, had developed under 
pressure of muscular effort in the sixth and seventh 

"4. Up to this time the child had not learned to stand 
or to creep, therefore the right-handedness could not have 
been due to the unequal weight of the viscera on either 
side of the body. As she had not learned to speak or to 
utter articulate sounds with much distinctness, we may 
also say that right or left-handedness may develop while 
the motor speech centre is not yet functioning. 

"5. In most cases involving a marked use of the one 
hand in preference to the other, the second or backward 
hand followed slowly upon the lead of the first in a way 
clearly showing symmetrical innovation of accompanying 
movements by the second hand." 

The conclusions of Professor Baldwin run as follow : — 
" It is likely, therefore, that right-handedness in the child 
is due to difference in the hemisphere of the brain reached 




at an early stage of life ; that the promise of it is in- 
herited ; and that the influences of infancy have little 
effect upon it. Yet, of course, regular habits of disuse or 
of the cultivation of the other hand may, as the child 
grows up, diminish or destroy the disparity between the 
two hands. And this inherited brain one-sidedness also 
accounts for the association of right-handedness and speech 
— the speech function being a further development of the 
same unilateral potency for movement found first in right 
or left-handedness." 

We think the conclusions of Professor Baldwin pre- 
mature, and in one or two points inaccurate. If his 
experiments are awarded their full value, they prove little 
or nothing for or against the theory now under considera- 
tion, for no reliable or general deduction, such as Professor 
Baldwin offers, can logically be drawn from the phe- 
nomena of a single individual case. Nor can it be granted 
• for a moment that his daughter was typical of the normal 
child. Its early, pronounced — and shall we say uncon- 
scious ? — right-handed preference clearly marks it out as 
one of the strongly and naturally biassed individuals 
forming the 20 per cent, of lopsided beings who, all 
through life, and in spite of all pressure, punishment, 
education, or custom, maintain unimpaired a one-handed 

Of course, as Dr. Ferrier aptly observes in his "The 
Functions of the Brain " (1886) : — " The speech centre is, 
as has been stated, in the great majority of instances 
situated in the left hemisphere. But there is no reason 
why, beyond education and heredity, this should neces- 
sarily be so (why dextral pre-eminence should occur in the 
first instance is not quite satisfactorily made out). It is 
quite conceivable that the articulating centres of the right 
hemisphere should be educated in a similar manner. A 
person who has lost the use of his right hand may, by 
education and practice, acquire with his left all the 
cunning of his right. In such a case the manual motor 


centres of the right hemisphere become the centres of 
motor acquisitions similar to those of the left. As regards 
the articulating centres, the rule seems to be that they 
are educated and become the organic seat of volitional 
acquisitions on the same side as the manual centres. 
Hence, as most people are right-handed, the education 
of the centres of volitional movements takes place in the 
left hemisphere. This is borne out in a striking manner 
by the occurrence of cases of aphasia with left hemiplegia 
in left-handed people. Several cases of this kind have 
now been put on record." 

And Dr. H. H. Donaldson follows on the same lines 
when he says (p. 275, " The Growth of the Brain ") : — 
"It is probable, from all that can be ascertained, that in 
a thoroughly Ambidextral individual the two hemispheres 
more nearly correspond in their functions than they do in 
the one-handed individuals as represented by the majority 
of the community. It is certain, however, that while, in 
the strongly right-handed persons, it is the left hemisphere 
which is mainly concerned, the reverse is the case in those 
left-handed. . . . Though in children injury to one hemi- 
sphere may be compensated by the development of the 
other, in the adult such is not the case." 

This necessarily refers to speech centres exclusively. 
And so, whilst it is an actual fact that the two brains may 
thus independently perform their functions equally and 
separately, we have not yet seen or heard of a case where 
the sinister hand has ever attained to the dexterity of its 
dexter fellow in any individual where the preferential 
natural bias for either hand was strongly exhibited during 
infancy and childhood. 

Whatever, therefore, may be the connection between 
the hand and the brain, it must not be forgotten that the 
left-headedness, on which we are told this right-handedness 
depends, may just as easily be an effect of the right- 
hand predominance as its cause ! and if so, the in- 
numerable generations of right-handed people will ration- 



ally explain its appearance, even in the youngest, and 
prior to any direct effect of right-handed practice upon the 
left lobe — as in the case of the Professor's infant daughter 
aforesaid. Granting that the left brain drives the right 
hand, and that the right brain controls and guides the 
left hand, it will be at once admitted that the more the 
right or the left hand is exercised, practised, and used, 
just so much more will the motor cells of the controlling 
side of the brain be stimulated, strengthened, and de- 
veloped. This presumption is in accord with the teaching 
of almost every authority who has written on brain 
culture or growth. 

Hence, and lastly, until, as with the first hen and the 
first egg, doctors can satisfactorily determine which is the 
primal cause, i.e. whether left-brainedness originally pro- 
duced right-handedness, or whether right-handedness has 
developed left-brainedness ; this theory, propounded by 
Dr. Cahall, cannot command our acceptance or approval. 

12. The Result of Natural Selection. 

Professor D. J. Cunningham, M.D., D.C.L., F.R.S., 

who expounded his views on " Right-handedness and 
Left-brainedness," the result of Natural Selection, before 
the members of the Anthropological Institute on October 
2ist, igo2, is the champion of the most recent hypothesis 
on this subject. Dr. Cunningham being the Huxley 
Memorial Lecturer for the year, his pronouncements are 
invested with special interest and importance, which 
demand, consequently, special examination and careful 

The lecture covers a wide area, and it is to be regretted 
that in the present case the whole of the field cannot be 
explored- Little, however, if anything, will be omitted 
that is germane to the purpose of this chapter, and what- 
ever may not be included is therefore foreign to the present 


What, then, are the main propositions relied upon, and 
sought to be established, in the elaboration of this 
" Natural Selection " theory ? They are as follow, and 
we append to the list one or two of the Professor's con- 
clusions, so that in a synoptical form the reader may 
survey the entire extent of the argument, together with 
the result of those profound investigations and observa- 
tions upon which it is founded. 

Synopsis of Professor Cunningham's Argument. 

1. Our ancestors the monkeys were truly Am- 
bidextrous : — " I have never been able to satisfy myself 
that they show any decided preference for the use of one 
arm more than the other " (p. 13). 

2. Primitive man, whilst going on all fours, 
was also truly Ambidextrous : — " In the evolution of 
man right-handedness did not assert itself until the 
upper limb had been set absolutely free from the office of 
locomotion " (p. 14). 

3. Immediately man began to walk on two feet 
right-handedness asserted itself: — "No sooner did 
man assume an upright gait than this character began to 
be developed " (p. 14). 

4. Right-handedness is produced solely by Hand 
culture : — " This character began to be developed — 
feebly marked in the earlier stages, no doubt, but 
gradually gathering strength as the connection between 
the hand and the brain became more and more intimate, 
and as the work allotted to the hand grew in importance " 
(p. 14). 

5. Right-handedness is a character or faculty 
inherited by us through Natural Selection: — 

" Right-handedness is a character which has been at- 
tained in the ordinary course of the evolution of man by 
the subtle process of ' Natural Selection ' " (p, 12). 

6. Right-handedness is caused by Left-brained- 



ness : — " Right-handedness is due to a transmitted 
functional pre-eminence of the left brain " (p. 13). 

7. Left-brainedness is a production of "Natural 
Selection " : — " Left-brainedness, or the functional pre- 
eminence of the left brain, is not the result, but through 
evolution it has become the cause of right-handedness " 

(P- 15)- 

8. This Left-brainedness consists in a structural 
foundation or diflference, and is hereditary : — " The 

superiority of the left cerebral hemisphere rests upon 
some structural foundation which is transmitted from 
parent to offspring" (p. 15). 

g. No structural condition, as to weight or con- 
volutions, accounting for this left-brainedness, has 
hitherto been detected : — " We may dismiss therefore 
from our minds the possibility of left-brainedness being 
due to a greater mass of cerebral substance on the 
left side of the brain. ... I am satisfied that no amount 
of ingenuity would enable us to twist the asym- 
metrical arrangement of the convolutions into such 
a form as to give a constant and general superiority to 
one hemisphere over the other " (p. 17). 

10. " That I should have so far been baffled in the 
attempt to discover some structural character to account 
for the functional superiority of the left cerebrum does 
not lessen my belief that such exists. It merely 
persuades me that the inquiry has been conducted up to 
the present along wrong lines, and I do not doubt that 
the problem will ultimately be satisfactorily explained " 
(p. 21). 

11. " It is not alone in the possession of the awkward 
hand that the left side shows inferiority (!) It 
would seem that in some respects it exhibits a less 
vigorous growth, and that in certain localities it is more 
prone to congenital defects than the right side." 

Dealing with these items in the order here given, the 
first three may be approved and passed, whether we 


accept the teaching about our anthropoid ancestry or 
not. With reference to No. 4, the complete paragraph 
runs as follows : — " No sooner did man assume an 
upright gait, than this character (of right-handedness) 
began to be developed — feebly marked in the earlier 
stages, no doubt, but gradually gathering strength as the 
connection between the hand and the brain became 
more and more intimate, and as the work allotted to the 
hand grew in importance. It thus comes about that it 
is in civilized races engaged in skilled labour of the 
highest order that the highest degree of right-handedness 
is exhibited, and it becomes a question whether the 
introduction of mechanical contrivances, which are now- 
adays so fast replacing manual work — the typewriter and 
the printing-machine, the steam-loom and the reaping- 
machine — may not in the course of time operate to some 
extent in the opposite direction " (Lecture, p. 14). 

Two or three queries immediately present themselves 
to the reader's mind in connection with this first batch 
of terms. 

First : Why should the quality or attribute of right- 
handedness have remained dormant until the hands 
" had been set absolutely free from the office of loco- 
motion " ? and what stimulus was, or could have been 
afforded for its development by the work of the hands 
being thus so materially diminished as it was when they 
stopped walking ? The right side visceral preponderance 
existed then, when man was a four-footed or four-handed 
animal, even as now ; and also the other potencies which 
have, according to modern theorists, so great an influence 
in developing this right-hand supremacy. Where, then, 
was the exciting cause of such a lopsided pre-eminence 
during all those ages of Ambidextral existence ? Can we 
conceive the duties of the hands to assume a more in- 
telligent or intellectual character simply because the 
monkey, or the man, may be walking on two legs (or 
feet) instead of four ? What extra and higher order of 



duties or functions, e.g. would the hands of the first 
upright man be called upon to discharge that his 
four-footed parents were not daily and continually per- 
forming ? 

Secondly : If a " higher order of work " required, as it 
undoubtedly must have done, a "higher order" of in- 
telligence to execute it, what induced the increased or 
superior intelligence in the first case ? Which of these 
two " higher orders " came first into existence, the 
" work " or the " intelligence " ? And in either case, 
why ? 

Thirdly : In what way did, or could, " the connection 
between the hand and the brain " become more and 
more intimate in those early stages of man's separate 
history? Does this "intimacy" consist in the celerity 
or instantaneousness in transmission of the volitions 
from the brain to the hand, or in the responsiveness or 
sensibility of the hand in obeying the behests of its 
master ? Is the connection, for example, between the 
brain and the paw, or hand, of a monkey in its cage, 
less intimate, less instantaneous, or less perfect than 
that between the brain and hand of its keeper? Does 
the connection ever fail in one case and not in the other ? 
Are the hands of the ape less under control — in the limit 
of its evolutions and requirements— than are the hands 
of a man ? If so, how does such inferiority show itself ? 
for the hands of a monkey are not by any means confined 
to the offices of locomotion, "but are endowed with 
many of the capabilities which distinguish the human 
hand" (Lecture, p. 13). So far as general observation 
goes, it would probably be unanimously granted that 
the connection between the hands and the brain of the 
monkey is of a very superior nature, if unerring cal- 
culations of distances, unfailing powers of grip, and 
lightning-like movements are any indication that the 
"lines of communication" are maintained without 
interruption or delay ! 


Taking the entire quotation, it is asserted that hand- 
culture develops right-handedness, and that deteriora- 
tion in hand-culture promotes a reversion to the original 
type of true Ambidexterity. And by hand-culture is 
meant the employment of the hands in occupations and 
functions of the higher, and the highest, order — skilled 
labour, in which superior intelligence and delicacy of 
manipulation are demanded. The dogma then is clearly 
deiined ; the more the two hands are exercised in this 
"highest order" of work the more — and to precisely the 
same degree — will right-handedness increase, and the 
contrast between the two hands in their dexterity and 
sensibility exhibit itself. And so vitally are these two 
things associated together, that the right-handedness 
depends for its very existence and survival upon the 
circumstance and the continuance of this "highest order" 
of hand-culture ! 

There will be good reason for returning to this anon. 

Section 5 contains the enunciation of Professor 
Cunningham's theory. It is the subtle process of 
" natural selection " which is answerable for right- 
handedness, but in order to effectually discuss the whole 
question the next three paragraphs must be included. 
We will give the hypothesis in the author's own words 
as fully as is necessary. 

" Right-handedness is a character which has been 
attained in the ordinary course of the evolution of man 
by the subtle process of natural selection (p. 12). All 
the evidence at our disposal goes to show that right- 
handedness is due to a transmitted functional pre- 
eminence of the left brain (p. 13). There cannot be a 
doubt that the superiority of the left cerebral hemisphere 
rests upon some structural foundation which is trans- 
mitted from parent to offspring (p. 15). The functional 
pre-eminence of the left brain is not a haphazard acquisi- 
tion which has been picked up during the life of the 
individual. It is not the result, but through evolution 



it has become the cause of right-handedness. . . . The 
most favourably placed limb has been raised by natural 
selection to the position of special importance by the 
perpetuation of a variation in the cerebral hemisphere 
which presides over its operations" (p. 15). 

The only rational interpretation that can be put upon 
all these premises, so far, is that " natural selection " has 
developed a left-brainedness which, in its turn, has pro- 
duced a right-handedness ; and that this left-brainedness 
has produced the right-handedness by giving the hands 
a "higher order" of work to do; and that when this 
" higher order " of work is diminished or withdrawn, the 
right-handedness is similarly diminished or destroyed. 
Furthermore, this right-handedness is strictly hereditary, 
since its cause, the left-brainedness, rests upon a " struc- 
tural foundation which is transmitted from parent to 

" Natural selection " has, then, much to answer for. 
Its mode of working is defined by its great author, who 
says : " Natural selection acts only by taking advantage 
of slight successive variations ; she (?) can never take a 
great and sudden leap." " As natural selection acts solely 
by accumulating slight successive variations, it can pro- 
duce no great sudden modifications. It can act only by 
short and slow steps " (Darwin, " Origin of Species," 
pp. 156, 413). " Natural selection acts exclusively by 
the preservation and accumulation of variations which 
are beneficial." " Natural selection acts only by the 
preservation and accumulation of small inherited, modifi- 
cations, each profitable to the preserved being." " On 
the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in 
the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed. 


" Origin of Species," pp. 63, 75, 97). 


Herbert Spencer, also one of the recognized authorities 
among evolutionists, tells us that : " From the remotest 
past which science can fathom, up to the novelties of 
yesterday, an essential trait of evolution has been the 
transformation of the homogeneous into the heterogeneous. 
... At the same time that evolution is a change from the 
homogeneous to the heterogeneous, it is a change from 
the indefinite to the definite. Along with an advance- 
ment from simplicity to complexity there is an advance 
from confusion to order. . . . Development, no matter of 
what kind, exhibits not only a multiplication of unlike 
parts, but an increase in the distinctness with which those 
parts are marked off from one another " (" First Principles," 
PP- 359. 362). 

And, lastly, " natural selection " acts exclusively 
through "the preservation of profitable modifica- 
tions OF structure " (Darwin, " Origin of Species," 
p. go). 

Now, and generally, since monkeys and men were 
admittedly true ambidexters originally, it must be clearl)^ 
shown how, in their wild and savage state, slight modifica- 
tions of, and variations in, right and left brainedness, and 
the appearance of a dextral superiority, with a corre- 
sponding deterioration of the sinistral front or upper 
limb, could possibly be "favourable," "beneficial," or 
"profitable" to those animals so affected. It seems obvious 
and irresistible that, whether apes or human beings, they 
must equally suffer through what cannot but be considered 
as a serious defect ; for the animals so situated would 
certainly suffer in their powers of locomotion, arboreal or 
terrestrial, and would be still more disadvantaged in their 
offensive and defensive endowments and capabilities by 
the possession of an inferior and partially crippled limb. 
Captain Edgeworth-Johnstone, Superintendent, Gymnasia, 
Dubhn, writes under date February 5th, igo3 : " On one 
occasion at the Royal Military Tournament I met in 
competition an officer who fenced equally well with either 



hand — in fact, he frequently changed hands in the middle 
of a bout. The fact that he worked his way well up in the 
competition was solely due to this accomplishment, 
as he was by no means in the first flight as a ' sabreur.' . . . 
There are few sports or athletic exercises where the advan- 
tages (of two-handed ability) are not most apparent." 
If, therefore, in modern warfare and physical exercises 
ambidextral skill confers such undoubted advantages on 
the truly two-handed individual — and every living ambi- 
dexter testifies to this fact — how impossible is it for us to 
conceive where and how in primitive times its virtue was 
lost in these predominant, almost exclusively pre- 
eminent, departments. The dilemma is an awkward one 
for the exponent of the natural selection hypothesis ; but 
the facts are inexorable, and must be met and disproved 
if the theory is to survive even with a modicum of pro- 
bability in its favour. And it is futile to point out 
the great advance which man has made in his uni- 
dextrous condition, because of the reply that in an 
ambidextrous condition he might just as easily have 
made a still greater improvement ; and the natural 
contention is that he would. Hundreds, if not thousands, 
of cases and testimonies could be adduced wherein the 
" fittest " is the ambidexter and not the unidexter ; 
where the "profitable" and "beneficial" variation is 
in the truly two-handed, and not in the dextral or 
lopsided workman (be he surgeon, pianist, cricketer, 
artizan, athlete, clerk, carpenter, or navvy) ; and again 
it may be urged how inconceivable is it to imagine 
that the possession of a sinistral semi-abortive limb by 
pre-historic man — or monkey ! — could be considered 
such an advantage, by " natural selection," as to be 
transmitted down from parent to offspring through all 
those countless generations in his primeval existence. 

If then, and it would seem to be irrevocably so, the 
differentiation of the two brains and the two hands was a 
positive disadvantage in those early times, " natural 


selection " would unquestionably have not only declined 
to perpetuate it, but the " survival of the fittest " would 
have " rigidly destroyed " every specimen of it ; for 
" natural selection," according to its advocates, is not 
less rigorous and exact in the extermination of unfavour- 
able variations than it is in the preservation of those 
modifications which are beneficial. Mr. Darwin assures 
us that any variation in the least degree injurious 
would be thus rigidly destroyed. The onus of proof 
that unidexterity is and was an " advantage " rests with 
the lecturer ; but, with the evidence before us, such 
" advantage" has not been established. 

Going still further back, we might challenge Dr. Cun- 
ningham to demonstrate the advantage pertaining to the 
intermediate being, half monkey and half man, that went 
partly on two feet and partly on four ? Are we to believe 
that all those innumerable intermediate " aberrations " (or 
links) who could neither fight nor climb, nor travel so well 
as their progenitors, possessed other compensating advan- 
tages arising out of their inferior left hands that gave them 
a resistless supremacy in the struggle for existence ? If 
this be so, it would be well, and necessary, to define them. 

Leaving the right-handedness to be adjusted and located 
in the list of human improvements, or otherwise, when 
these difficulties are met and disposed of, the subject of 
left-brainedness claims our attention. We are told that 
this " functional pre-eminence of the left brain rests 
upon some structural foundation which is transmitted, 
&c." (Lecture, p. 15). 

This structural foundation may exist, so medical 
men assert, in either superior weight, mass, convolution, 
or cortical area ; and such superiority has been said to 
exist in the left brain. That both the functional pre- 
eminence and the structural foundation are at present 
purely hypothetical will clearly appear from the lecturer's 
own words and the evidence of numerous specialists in 
anatomical and medical science to be produced. 



" Braune has shown in the most conclusive manner 
that if there is any difference in weight between the two 
hemispheres, it is a difference in favour of the right, and 
not of the left ; and I may add that these results are quite 
in accord with my own observations, and that I believe 
that the same conditions as to weight are present at all 
periods of growth and development. We may dismiss, 
therefore, from our minds the possibility of left-brained- 
ness being due to a greater mass of cerebral substance on 
the left side of the brain" (Lecture, p. 17). 

" I am satisfied that no amount of ingenuity would 
enable us to twist the asymmetrical arrangement of the 
convolutions into such a form as to give a constant and 
general superiority to one hemisphere over the other" 
(Lecture, p. 17). 

" A comparison of the human brain with that of the 
three higher anthropoids shows that, in so far as the 
cortex exposed on the surface is concerned, there is little 
difference in the relative extent of the arm area. If there 
is any difference it is one in favour of the anthropoid " 
(Journal, p. 292, and note). 

" No constant or definite difference can be detected in 
the area of cortex associated with the speech centre on 
the two sides of the brain, and yet it would appear that 
only the left speech centre is active. The results, there- 
fore, which have been derived from our examination of the 
arm-area of cortex on the two sides are of a precisely 
ANALOGOUS NATURE " (Lecture, p. 22). 

" That I should have so far been baffled in the attempt 
to discover some structural character to account for the 
functional superiority of the left cerebrum does not lessen 
my belief that such exists. It merely persuades me that 
the inquiry has been conducted up to the present along 
wrong lines, and I do not doubt that the problem will 
ultimately be satisfactorily explained " (Lecture, p. 21). 

Hence, until some fresh light is thrown upon this 
inexplicable phenomenon, the theory may be relegated ta 


the region of unproved speculations ; more especially when 
this so-called "functional pre-eminence" is shown to 
have no foundation whatever in fact, and that this most 
impressive phrase means nothing more than functional 
activity arising from a functional culture that neces- 
sarily caused it, or called it into being. 

Drs. Donaldson, Ferrier, Bastian, and Wigan — four 
sufficiently good names surely — agree in asserting that 
both in regard to speech and motor capabilities the right 
brain is no whit inferior to the left, but that it has been, 
can, and may be cultivated or educated to exactly the 
same degree of activity or functional ability as its fellow, 
the left brain. The actual cases that have occurred 
where, as regards speech, motion, and reason, such equality 
has been proved, are on well-authenticated record, and 
cannot be questioned. If, consequently, the right lobe 
can be so developed as an unexceptionable " understudy " 
(and even a permanent substitute) for the "principal " or 
left lobe — so much so indeed as to be actually mistaken 
for it — where does the inferiority exist ? 

A brief reference to the Professor's concluding depre- 
ciatory remarks on the "left side " must be made before 

The designation " the awkward hand " is very unkind 
and quite as unmerited. In spite of ages of neglect and 
repression, does not this sinistral member acquit itself 
with marvellous efficiency ? Even with right-handed 
persons, does not the left hand almost rival its fellow on 
the key-board ; bat and bowl as well in the cricket-field ; 
fence, row, hammer, draw, write, and perform a thousand 
other oifices as deftly as the right ? Is it not doubly 
unkind first of all to condemn the left hand to a life of 
practical inaction, to systematically neglect its education, 
to deliberately deprive it of the opportunity of developing,, 
and then loudly to upbraid it for its inefficiency ? 

Ignorance, prejudice, custom, and even education, have 
done their best to dishonour and injure it, but — and this 



is matter for devout thankfulness — it is just as ready and 
just as capable to respond to an equitable adjustment and 
apportionment of culture as its confrere the right hand. 

The congenital and other defects referred to are not 
inherent in or inseparable from the left side ; they are the 
natural effects of a known cause, the inevitable results of 
a mistaken treatment, the legitimate development of a 
" human (we had almost said inhuman) but not the less 
unnatural selection." 

Considering, then, that Dr. Cunningham confesses that 
he has failed to discover any physiological or anatomical 
difference in the structure of the two brains to account 
for the universality of left-brainedness ; that innumerable 
instances are on record in which the right brain has taken 
up and discharged with undiminished vigour and com- 
petency all the functions and duties previously executed 
by the left ; and that the left hand, in every normal indi- 
vidual, always has and does exhibit similar and equal sen- 
sibility, dexterity, accuracy, and strength when subjected 
to the same kind and degree of education or culture, may 
we not conclude with safety and assurance that whatever 
else " natural selection " may have done in the remote 
ages of the past or in more recent times, it certainly 
cannot be held responsible for that " one-handedness " 
which seems nevertheless to be a common heritage of 
mankind ? 

We have now discussed briefly and very imperfectly the 
various hypotheses which have been advanced to account 
for right-handedness, and we are bold enough to dissent 
from them all. We recognize the authority of the writers, 
we admit their high qualifications, their research, and 
their unimpeachable sincerity, but we withhold our assent 
from each and every one alike, believing as we do that 
they have all missed the very crux of the entire question, 
viz. that the one-handedness is an abnormal and not a 
NATURAL phenomenon. 

What therefore appears to be the most rational solution 


of this very vexed and complicated question (after review- 
ing all the evidence adduced in support of the preceding 
theories) is to start with the assumption that not only 
was perfect ambidextral function or two-handed skill the 
characteristic of primeval man, but that it is and was 
intended to be by the Creator the rightful heritage of 
mankind ; that the 80 per cent, of either-handed (and truly 
two-handed) children born into the world constitute the 
normal type of man — which normal type is amenable to 
the most absolute Ambidexterity; and that the 17 per cent, 
of strongly biassed right-handed births together with the 
3 per cent, of left-handed births are deviations from the 
parent stock or normal type — irregularities or freaks of 
nature — just as mysterious and unexplainable as are other 
abnormalities that are occurring all round us in precisely 
similar or approximate degrees of frequency, and in exactly 
the same quasi-hereditary, irregular, or sporadic manner. 

This view, it is believed, is supported b}'- parity of 
reasoning with regard to the two eyes, the two ears, and 
the two feet. We do not take the victims of strabismus, 
talipes, and suchlike afflictions as normal types of eye- 
sight and pedestrian powers. Why, then, do so in the 
case of a similarly small proportion affected and afflicted 
with the disease of congenital one-handedness ? — for it 
must not be lost sight of, that the 80 per cent, are 
congenitally two-handed. 

Our theory, then, is as follows : — We believe that the 
80 per cent, of normally TWO-handed persons are made 
ONE-handed solely by the pressure of early influences 
and training, in which nurses, mothers, teachers, and an 
uncompromising prejudice, unite their misdirected forces 
with a determination and persistency that Mrs. Grundy 
herself has never approached ; and hence that our national 
education is little better than a crippling of the child's 
faculties and a serious diminution of the nation's efficiency. 

For in the case of the 3 per cent, of left-handed 
victims, their natural powers are suppressed, injured and 




partially destroyed ; the 17 per cent, of strongly right- 
handed people have their dextral powers abnormally 
developed and their sinistral potentialities utterly neg- 
lected ; whilst the 80 per cent, of normal two-handed 
individuals have their right hands trained to what never 
exceeds a mediocre standard of dexterity, their left hands 
being considered quite undeserving of the slightest atten- 
tion or cultivation. 

Given a complete and universal scheme of Ambi- 
dextral Culture, and we should undoubtedly obtain a 
community that would be perfectly two-handed ; wherein 
over 20 per cent, would be conscious of any difference 
whatever in the skill and delicacy of their two hands, the 
remaining 80 per cent, being as bimanous in practice as 
they were in conformation. 

The explanation of one-handedness now offered receives 
further confirmation from analogy or comparison with the 
animal world, throughout which it has been shown the 
most perfect two-sidedness or bilateral equality obtains. 
Its members, from the quadrumana down to the rodentia 
and Crustacea, walk equally with both feet, legs or 
claws, grasp equally with both hands, fly equally with 
both wings, climb equally with both or all four paws 
and claws, perch or roost equally on either foot, and lie 
equally on either side. 

Man's lopsidedness (born of a "wickedness " for which 
he was never designed, so we are told) is the only ex- 
ception to the " universal symmetrical balance of power 
and perfect bilateral co-ordination " that elsewhere and 
everywhere prevail. 

One-handedness then, we take it, whether it be dextral 
or sinistral, is a departure from the normal type and from 
the natural two-handedness of the 80 per cent., the great 
bulk, of mankind ; a deviation which must be ranked in 
the same class or category as other irregularities and 
abnormalities that follow almost exactly the same laws of 
generation and development. 



That serious disabilities, defects, and disadvantages 
attend our present one-handedness, interfering very 
materially with manual efficiency in almost every depart- 
ment of life, will be generally admitted by any person 
who takes even a cursory view of the situation. And 
these disadvantages are as numerous as they are grave. 
Indeed, the left hand has been so woefully neglected and 
ignored for generations and ages, that, although it will 
respond in time most effectively and perfectly to every 
demand made upon its powers, yet spontaneously it is 
unable, except with the greatest awkwardness, if not 
clumsiness, to do the smallest act of a novel or strange 
character and to which it is quite unaccustomed. Hence 
it is found that in all occupations, whether of a recrea- 
tive, or business, or personal nature, the left hand is 
practically useless unless subjected previously to a 
systematic training, as in piano-playing, billiards, cricket, 
surgical operations, writing, drawing, and a large majority 
of handicrafts. 

In the domain of sports, games, and recreations, the 
one-handed man is lamentably deficient and inferior. 
The fieldsman who can neither catch, throw in, nor bowl 
with his left hand is almost debarred from first-class 
cricket, and, indeed, the really one-handed man is 
nowhere, and can never become a Darling, a Daft, a 
Grace, or a Gunn in the field, a Roberts at the billiard 
table, or an Izaak Walton by the riverside. Then in 



gymnastics or acrobatic performances a large proportion 
of the exercises is either dangerous, difficult, or impossible 
to the athlete (?) whose left hand has not been duly and 
truly trained to a very high degree of dexterity. 

In the department of home life there are a thousand- 
and-one details of domestic work that would render it 
intolerable drudgery to the one-handed housewife, to the 
woman who was incapable of using her sinistral hand 
with considerable facility and skill. Very frequently, as 
we shall see presently, one-handedness causes annoyance, 
inconvenience, and loss to an alarming extent. 

There are several hundreds of trades and manual 
occupations which suffer materially from the inefficiency 
of one-handed or right-handed persons — e.g. in carpentry, 
glazing, bricklaying, stone-cutting, digging, &c., &c. 

The professions afford still more pronounced cases of 
one-handed helplessness. Where do the one-handed 
pianists, harpists, organists, or surgeons appear in the 
list of celebrities ? The idea is absurd, the assumption 
unthinkable. In the last-named profession the incon- 
venience of one-handedness is such a fatal barrier to 
success that a certain amount of manual training for 
the left hand has to be gone through in order to 
qualify the surgeon to perform particular operations 
(impossible to the right hand) thus entailing a great 
deal of laborious and tedious effort, often for long 

Another serious aspect of the question is met with on 
the occasion of accident to, or loss of, the dexter hand. 
As Dr. Lundie remarks : — " Let a right-handed person be 
obliged by an accident to use his left hand for all purposes, 
and he will be inclined the more to think it is well called 
' sinister,' so slow and helpless will he find it in doing his 
bidding, so unreliable and deceptive." 

The malady which most often and seriously attacks and 
cripples the right hand is " writer's cramp," but there 
are numerous counterparts in pianist's cramp, and the 




Specimen of writing by one suffering from writer's cramp. 
Age of writer about forty. 

Fig. I. 

Page loi 


various forms of paralysis peculiar to smiths, bricklayers, 
masons, carpet-sewers, &c. 

Writer's cramp is the most common of these functional 
impotencies, but the others occur with a frequency that 
is only known to medical men and those connected with 
the industries which produce those diseases. 

There are somewhat unusual features in this affection of 
writer's cramp. Whether there is or is not a controlling 
centre for the act of writing (as many neurologists 
maintain there is), it is perfectly clear that the co-ordina- 
tion of writing, or of any educated movement, may be 
upset by a peripheral lesion causing an uncertainty in 
the response of the muscles to the mental stimulus. 
The fact that the left hand (if used for writing, by a 
sufferer from writer's cramp) is liable to be affected in 
the same way as the right hand, has been used, especially 
by Duchesne, as an argument in favour of the disease — 
and consequently the right-handedness — being due to a 
central lesion. But, on the other hand, the fact that 
writer's cramp is always of more or less gradual growth, 
and is never suddenly established, militates strongly 
against the idea of a controlling centre, which, whether 
congenital or acquired by education, would surely be 
liable to occasional accident and sudden extinction, just 
as the centre of language is sometimes extinguished. 

Dr. G. V. Poore gives the details of i68 cases in vols. 
6i and 70 of the " Medico-Chirurgical Transactions," 
the cases extending, as he tells us, over a period of 
sixteen years. Now it is a matter of common knowledge 
not only that thousands of people suffer and are stricken 
down by this class of disease — many brilliant pianists 
being utterly ruined by its attacks — but that it almost 
invariably results from this one-handedness that exists 
amongst us — i.e. that the disease is the direct effect of 
too great a strain upon one — the dexter — hand. No. 75 
in Dr. Poore's list illustrates this, where the patient 
was congenitally left-handed ; but as he was very 



dextrous with the right hand also, the abnormality did 
not require treatment, and the ailment was due to an 

It is remarkably significant that in all these i68 cases 
of Dr. Poore only three are left-handed (Nos. 75, 87, 
and 88); the first, No. 75, who wrote as quickly with his 
left hand as others do with their right, and more quickly 
than he himself could with his right, required no 
medical treatment whatever ; whilst the other two wrote 
with their right hands. No. 87 had to give up his 
occupation because of the writing difficulty, and No. 88 
suffered from cramp in his right arm. So that not 
one of the entire number suffered from left-handed 
cramp, and not one of the patients was an Ambidexter ! 
The disadvantages of one-handedness might be in- 
definitely extended to nearly every occupation in life 
where the one hand is exercised ; for whether in 
writing, drawing, painting, or typewriting ; whether in 
culinary, carpentry, or cooker)' occupations, in engineer- 
ing, architecture, or surgery, — one-handedness is alike 
irksome, awkward, inferior, and sadly disadvantageous. 

Considering, then, the great frequency of accident to 
and disease in one hand, we should be more than warranted 
in strongly urging the adoption of Ambidexterity ; but 
when, in addition, we find so much inferiority and loss 
from a non-cultivation of the second hand and from the 
absence of an equal dexterity therein, does not the con- 
tinued neglect of the sinistral member become more than 
a reproach or even a disgrace — a genuine misfortune ? Dr. 
A. Buchanan tells us that : — " In childhood the two hands 
are often used indiscriminately. This is more especially the 
case with weakly children, with whom it requires great 
attention to make them relinquish the bad habit of using the 
left hand, which it is supposed they have contracted. But 
this is a mistake, and an error in physiological training 
founded upon it. Nature intends all the limbs to be 
equally exercised .... and it is wisest to allow the 


development of all parts of the frame to proceed in the 
natural way without interference. It is to do violence to 
nature and to dwarf the left side of the body to enforce 
upon a child the use of the right hand." 

Dr. W. C. Cahall argues on the same lines but from a 
different basis when he says : — " Now if the reason of our 
choice of a hand is due to an organic cause, how unwise 
it is to fight against nature unless we commence at the 
beginning and trust that habit will overcome the pre- 
disposition to use the left hand. Undertaken later, the 
result is often to spoil the skill of the left hand without 
training the right to do its work as well." 

This qualified and cautious declaration of the Doctor's 
may be safely expanded to its utmost limit, for common ex- 
perience and daily testimony prove to us that left-handed- 
ness is never eradicated, and that the inevitable result of 
all modern education with left-handed pupils is to cripple 
both hands instead of developing and perfecting either. 

Dr. Hollis has some very weighty words to say on this 
matter of our defective and one-sided system of training 
which has proved so detrimental to the highest interests 
of the nation and race — injurious both indirectly and 
directly. His trenchant criticism should be read by 
every sincere well-wisher of his fellows. He fearlessly and, 
we believe, equally truthfully asserts: — "That many 
worthy lives have fallen a sacrifice to this * Moloch ' of 
education is undoubtedly true." He mentions Dr. Samuel 
Johnson, Dean Swift, and the eminent German scholar, 
Spalding, as some of those who have suffered. " In the 
days of our forefathers, when work was not performed at 
the present high-pressure speed, and the struggle for 
existence was proportionately less, the dextral flaw in our 
education was of little or no importance ; now, however, 
the time has arrived when our posterity must utilize to 
the utmost every cubical line of brain substance, 
and this can only be done by a system of education 
which will enforce an equal pre-eminence to both 



sides of the brain in all intellectual operations. 

Let us for the future change Horne Tooke's definition of 
the left hand as ' that which we are taught to leave out 
of use when one hand only is employed,' into ' that which 
is left for us to use when the right hand is wearied by 
constant work.' " 

As an example of the short-sightedness of modern educa- 
tion, Dr. W. Ogle informs us that out of lOO left-handed 
persons observed by him, only four professed that they 
could write with their left hand, and of those four there 
was only one who could write fluently. What an awful 
waste of teaching power on the part of the numerous 
instructors ! What a still more disastrous waste of 
energy on the part of the pupil ! What a perversion of 
true educational principles, and what an irremediable 
loss to the 99 per cent, of unfortunate " sinisters," 
when we think of the mighty potentialities which they 
possessed, but which were crushed for ever by the mis- 
directed zeal of parents, guardians, and teachers ! Here 
are, say, lOO children, gifted by a freak of nature with a 
peculiar faculty, which, if cultivated, would place them in 
the very front rank of dextrous mechanics, artizans, &c., 
and the one object of the parent and of the pedagogue 
alike is to suppress that faculty, to destroy it absolutely, 
and thus the whole of the loo, save one, are reduced to a 
level below that of the ordinary mortal, the dexter left 
hand (if we may be allowed the phrase) being neglected 
and consigned to oblivion, whilst the sinistral right hand 
is trained and cultivated to a necessarily inferior and 
second-rate aptitude and skill. What wonder that Mr. 
H. T. Wharton and others write to the press asking 
such questions as the following: — "But is there any 
evidence that Ambidextrous people, left-handed by nature 
and right-handed from training, have any general mental 
advantage over their fellows ? I think not ! " (" Nature," 
vol. 2g, p. 477). Of course not ! How could they when 
their so-called education has been nothing less than a 


fiasco and an unpardonable blunder from beginning to 
end ? 

It is recorded that one tribe of an ancient people con- 
tended against the combined forces, in war, of the other 
eleven tribes, and that the one tribe was successful 
against their numerous opponents until the Almighty 
interfered and reversed the order. But it is no less a fact 
that amongst this one tribe there was one special company 
of 700 left-handed soldiers who could sling stones with 
their left hand " to a hair's breadth," and it is widely 
believed that the entire tribe of Benjamin was, if not 
absolutely left-handed, at least strongly and widely distin- 
guished by skilled Ambidexters of the kind named. 

But in these modern times is there not convincing 
proof of the inferiority of one-handed or lopsided develop- 
ment in the prolonged war in South Africa, that so 
heavily taxed our resources and all but defied our most 
strenuous efforts to successfully terminate it ? Do not 
the Boers use two hands where our soldiers can only use 
one ? Is it not a fact that large numbers of them are 
Ambidextrous marksman ? And may we not add, safely, 
hence to a great extent their unusual mobilitj' and military 
prowess ? 

It MUST be just as undesirable and just as disadvan- 
tageous to have a weak, half-developed, awkward left 
hand as it is to have a weak and defective left eye, a 
left ear dull almost to deafness, or a short semi-shrivelled 
left leg ! And it seems just as sensible to recommend 
the possession and also the retention of the dull ear, eye, 
and the lame leg, as it is to recommend the possession 
and retention of a clumsy and semi-cultivated left hand ! 

Most persons will allow that "Two heads are better 
than one," and surely the same holds good of our two 
hands ! The man who can use both his hands with equal 
ease and skill is less likely to be at a loss than he who 
can use but one. He can bring more strength, and like- 
wise more dexterity, to bear on a given task ; and in 



many occupations he can undertake what would be 
impossible to him if he had not full control of both sides 
of his body. Much of the every-day business of modern 
life tends to throw a considerable amount of work on the 
left hand and arm, and it is only common sense to prepare 
for such a contingency by training that side in the years 
of infancy and childhood, when mind and body alike are 
more impressionable than in the later periods of life. 

But the greatest and the gravest disadvantage of uni- 
dexterity has yet to be mentioned and described. 

We have just observed that two heads are better than 
one, and that two hands are better than one ; surely, then, 
two brains must likewise be better than one. There can 
be no doubt that neglect of sinistral hand culture entails 
a corresponding and permanent Dextrocerebral Atrophy, 
with an inseparable accompanying mental inferiorit}'. It 
is unnecessary to quote authorities on this psychological 
fact, since no one disputes it. There is hardly a single 
medical writer named in these pages who does not witness 
to the intimate and vital connection between hand and 
brain, and to the consequent and inevitable organization 
of brain matter resulting from manual development and 

That a lopsided education leaves every child with an 
imperfectly organized cerebral hemisphere, or brain lobe 
— which is NEVER subsequently matured or fully developed, 
no, not in one person out of 10,000 — must be admitted 
by every inquirer. 

Wherefore we are none of us at our best ; but curiously 
enough we are not merely content to be living at some 
30 per cent, below our maximum strength, we are also 
eager and enthusiastic in advocating and justifying such a 
wretched condition of things, and ever ready to decry and 
deride any attempt to remedy the evil by raising the 
standard of individual and national efficiency to a higher, 
and the highest possible, level. 

Granted that a man (or woman) is an Ambidexter, with 


both brains, or brain hemispheres, perfectly organized, 
and such person is obviously fully equipped for the battle 
of life, and must, in the natural order of things, survive 
AS THE FITTEST in the struggle for existence ; whilst his 
(or her) one-handed rival must as assuredly diminish and 
disappear by " natural selection," which, as we have 
already seen, is as merciless in " rigidly destroying " 
variations of an " unfavourable " or injurious type, as it 
is faithful and unfailing in " the preservation of favourable 
individual differences and variations." 

It may therefore be confidently predicted, that. 

So Far as is Known — 

There is no advantage, but there is every disadvantage, 
in our being unidextrous ; whilst — 

There is no disadvantage, but every advantage, in our 
being truly Ambidextrous ! 



The question has often been asked, " Is Ambidexterity 
possible ? " that is, can the hands be so trained from 
infancy that they shall become equally dexterous in all 
and for all functions, and be easily interchangeable on 
every occasion where an alternation of use would be 
advisable, advantageous, or essential ? 

Few have the temerity to deny, whilst thousands have 
the courage most emphatically to assert and maintain, the 
possibility of a general and thorough-going Ambidexterity, 
as will be seen in the course of the argument. Never- 
theless, one medical writer in America, Dr. Gould by 
name, has recently come forward, and in the most 
dogmatic language declared that "all attempts at 
Ambidexterity are failures," and that Ambidexterity 
is " neither possible nor desirable ! " 

Our own reply to the question, on the contrary, is an 
unqualified affirmative, and we confidently pronounce it 
possible for every one of ordinary capacity to become, by 
appropriate two-handed culture, just as accomplished in 
true Ambidexterity as by our present-day one-handed 
training we become proficient in unidexterity, or, as 
Dr. Gould would term it — dextrality. 

There has been so much of the evasive in those who 
oppose the proposed innovation of bimanual skill, 
especially as to the real meaning of the word Ambi- 
dexterity, that before going further it will be expedient 
to refresh our minds as to what is exactly meant b}^ it. 


Uncertainty of any kind is both undesirable and fatal in 
this controversy, and no prevarication can be tolerated 
in the region of definitions ; so it must be understood 
that " Ambidexterity " shall signify that state of expert- 
ness, accuracy, and rapidity in which both hands shall be 
equally skilful, and equally capable of performing every 
movement and occupation that either of them can be 
required to engage in — as expert, for example, in writing 
a letter as in manipulating the keys of the piano ; in 
carving a joint as in buttoning a glove — and no more ! 

Wherefore, allowing that, as there are, and ever will be, 
inequalities and irregularities in the acuteness of vision 
in the two eyes, in the power of hearing in the two ears, 
and in the strength of the two legs — trifling and it may 
be imperceptible even to the person himself — so there 
will also be a corresponding inequality or irregularity in 
the skill of the two hands, which shall often be so slight 
as to be undetected by the Ambidexter himself. 

With this clear idea of the precise meaning to be 
attached to the term Ambidexterity, or Two-handedness, 
we resume. 

Is it not matter of common knowledge that in many 
exercises the left hand attains to an aptitude which the 
right hand has never surpassed, our opponents being the 
witnesses ? Dr. Gould himself admits that " Pure or 
untrained left-handed persons are to-day as expert as 
their right-handed fellows. ... It is only in a few things 
that one hand, &c., has the greater expertness, accuracy, 
and rapidity. ... In the dextral the left hand does 
many tasks of as great or greater importance with equal 
or superior skill, as the right. . . . Especially noteworthy 
is the playing of the violin, 'cello, and bass viol. The 
fingering is done with the left hand, and forms a striking 
reversal of dextrality, because it is by all odds the func- 
tion requiring more manipulative skill, accuracy, and 
rapidity. I do not know that the fact itself has ever 
been observed and stated, but certainly the reason for 



this strange contradictory practice has hitherto escaped 

In passing, it may be remarked that this same fingering 
of these stringed instruments, in which the left hand 
performs the superior work, has been mentioned by 
several writers, and is very particularly discussed in the 
pages of this present Manual. Indeed, no thoughtful 
writer on the subject would dream of ignoring such a 
powerful argument in pleading for the equal cultivation 
of the sinistral hand. 

The clear admission, then, in the above quotations is, 
that even at present, with no systematized instruction, 


On his own showing, therefore, and generally speaking, 
in manifold instances and in specified domains, the left 
hand is altogether equal to the right, for it " is given the 
vastly more important, difficult, and onerous task " ; in 
other words, we may say that the Ambidexterity is 


Moreover, he also lays it down as an undoubted fact 
that one-handedness " was an acquirement ; that the law 
and necessity were not exceptionless ; that it was due to 
no absolute fatalism of anatomy or physiology," and that 
such and such a phenomenon is another demonstration 
that no inherent neurologic or physiologic law governs 
the cerebral centre or its peripheral outworking." So, 
" the plastic brain on either side could take up the 

This was in the early prehistoric or humanizing times, 
and we are utterly unchanged nowadays in this respect, 
for, to our amazement, we read a page or two further 
on: — "There is in all this one noteworthy neurologic 


fact. In view of the long-continuance and vast pre- 
ponderance of dextrality, it seems strange that the 
hrain preserves all the preformed mechanisms 
plastic and ready to make a sinistral child, and the 
outworking of sinistrality is as prompt, the result 
as dextrous as if dextrality had heen chosen. The 
wonder at this is, however, lessened when one 
notes that all the functions of completed dextrality 
are at the same time and in the same person 
NOW possible to the sinistral." 

If language means anything specific, surely the above 
provisions signify that, from the anatomical and physio- 
logical standpoints, there is no reason whatever why the 
left hand should not be as expert, accurate, and rapid 
as the right ; in other words, no reason why perfect 
Ambidexterity should not generally obtain. 

Summarizing the premises by which Dr. Gould seeks 
to substantiate his hypothesis, we find that they are nine 
in number, and they may be arranged as follows : — 

1. Originally man was absolutely Ambidextrous. 

2. At all stages of man's history both lobes of the brain 

have been plastic, and equally capable of accommo- 
dating the speech centre. 

3. The speech centre can be transferred to the oppo- 

site hemisphere by " forced training and long 

4. The plastic brain on either side can take up the 


5. One-handedness is an acquirement pure and simple. 

6. There is no cause in man's anatomy, physiology, or 

nature to make him dextral or one-handed. 

7. With all persons it is only in a few things that one 

hand, &c., has the greater expertness, accuracy, 
and rapidity. 

8. Left-handed persons are quite as expert as their 

right-handed fellows, 
g. " Even in the dextral, the left hand does many tasks 



of as great or greater importance, and with equal 
or superior skill, as the right." 
Even a cursory glance at these propositions will reveal 
their general trend in favour of Ambidexterity, but a more 
careful survey of them will discover their potency and 
their conclusive demonstration of the possibility of a 
perfect Two-handedness. 

Nearly half a score of syllogisms, all proving, the possi- 
bility of Ambidexterity, could be formulated from these 
postulates, and we would ask the following five questions, 
based respectively on the selected and tabulated premises 
of the dissenting critic : — 

I. If man was originally Ambidextrous (i) 

If there is no anatomical or physiological reason 
for his present one-handed condition (6) 
and If the plastic brain on either side is equally able to 
take up the work (4) 
Why should not perfect Ambidexterity be 
Possible now? 

II. If man was originally Ambidextrous (i) 
and If one-handedness is purely an acquirement (5) 
Why cannot Man be Ambidextrous again ? 

III. If left-handed persons are quite as expert as their 

right-handed fellows (8) 
and If in right-handed persons the left hand does many 
tasks of as great or greater importance and 
with equal or superior skill as the right (g) 
Why should not Both Hands do all Tasks with 

EQUAL Skill ? 

IV. If at all stages of man's history both lobes of the 
brain have been plastic and equally capable 
of accommodating the speech centre (2) 
If the speech centre can be transferred to the 
opposite lobe by training and habit (3) 
and If the plastic brain on either side can take up the 
work (4) 


Why should not Both Lobes concurrently accom- 
modate THE Speech Centre, and simul- 
taneously TAKE UP the Work ? 

V. If man was once absolutely Ambidextrous (i) 
If he is now partially but very much Ambi- 
dextrous, and in many occupations (7) and (g) 
and If nothing but " an acquirement " in some remote 
period of his savage life is accountable for 
such interference with perfect Ambidexterity 


Why should He not be able to revert to that 
same and absolute ambidexterity? 

Is any great mental or metaphysical ability necessary 
to answer these five simple questions ? Do not the nine 
propositions, if accepted as final, or even as approximately 
correct, decide the matter once and for all ? Is it not 
obvious that in the face of such testimony the Possibility 
OF Ambidexterity is conclusively demonstrated ; and are 
not these dicta, of the Doctor's own formulating, the best 
reply to his own hypothesis ? 

Apart from all theorizing on the subject, what is to be 
said of the many conspicuous examples of brilliant Ambi- 
dexters whose two-handed skill has been so marked and 
so remarkable in the history of the past, as well as in the 
records of recent times ? 

Sir Daniel Wilson (author of a treatise on left-handed- 
ness) says : — " I am thoroughly Ambidextrous. I use the 
pen in the right hand and the pencil in the left hand, so 
that were either hand disabled, the other would be at once 
available for all needful operations. When engaged in 
correcting a proof or in other disconnected writing, I am 
apt to resort to the left hand without being conscious 
of the change." 

Professor Morse, of Princeton University, asserts that 
when he was engaged as a mechanical draughtsman, 

there was absolutely no preference in the use of either 



hand/' Of this gentleman's two-handed performances, 
which often included the simultaneous drawing of two 
different objects with the two hands, a Boston paper 
says: — "We must not omit to mention the wonderful 
skill displayed by Professor Morse in his blackboard draw- 
ings and illustrations, using either hand with facility, but 
working chiefly with the left. The rapidity, simplicity, 
and remarkable finish of the drawings elicited the heartiest 
applause of his audience." 

Sir Edwin Landseer, it is well known, was a most 
accomplished Ambidexter, his wonderful skill with his left 
hand, which was in no Degree Inferior to that of 
His Right, being a matter of common knowledge and of 
unbounded admiration. 

Major-General Baden-Powell, in 1894, when incapaci- 
tated and undergoing a painful course of treatment, having 
been bitten by a dog, went about with his right hand in a 
sling, rode with the others for the twenty-one days of the 
manoeuvres in Berkshire, and never excused himself a 
single duty. Being Ambidextrous, he wrote his reports 
every evening, as usual, and they were models of what 
such documents should be, and further, they were beauti- 
fully illustrated with maps and sketches ; and all this with 
his left hand. 

Mr. Simeon Snell, F.R.C.S,, writes : — " It may interest 
you to know that I am Ambidextrous myself. From 
almost the outset of commencing operating I have used 
one hand with just as much facility as the other. This 
seemed to come to me naturally and without cultivating. 
I remember the first time, about twenty-seven or twenty- 
eight years ago, I operated for the removal of cataract, on 
the right eye with the right hand, and on the left eye with 
the left hand. The latter was equally successful with the 
one done with the right hand, and since that time I have 
invariably used the left hand for the left eye, and the right 
hand for the right eye." 

Sir Hugh Adcock, C.M.G., Consulting Physician-in- 


Chief to H.I.M. the Shah of Persia, tells me that " There 
can be no doubt that a large proportion of Persian work- 
men are Ambidextrous, especially the * Nagars ' or car- 
penters. ... I have also observed that many other 
Persians use both hands indiscriminately without being 
in any sense left-handed, and many of them sign their 
names with the left hand almost as well as with the right, 
— H.I.M. the Shah for an instance." 

In etchers, engravers, sculptors, violinists, and pianists 
we have innumerable and overwhelming instances of the 
most perfect and undoubted Ambidextral skill, where the 
left hand displays its consummate ability and proves itself 
in no wise inferior to its fellow ; whilst the history of 
painting furnishes us with notable examples in the highest 
ranks of that unrivalled art. Hans Holbein, who painted 
alike in every manner, in fresco, in water colours, in oil 
or in miniature, whose invention was so surprisingly fruitful 
and poetical, whose execution was so remarkably quick, 
and whose application was indefatigable, painted chiefly 
with his left hand. And so did the famous Mozzo of 
Antwerp ; the not less distinguished Amico Aspertino and 
the justly celebrated Genoese artist, Ludovica Geneva 
(or Cangiagio), who, possessing such exceptional facility, 
skill in drawing, and fertility of invention. Worked 


But we must not omit to give due prominence to the 
Champion Ambidexter of the World, Leonardo da 
Vinci, " A genius all but universal, and a man pre- 
eminently great. In the fine arts he was the most accom- 
plished painter of his generation, and one of the most 
accomplished of the world, a distinguished sculptor, 
architect, and musician, and a luminous and pregnant 
critic. In inventions and experimental philosophy, he 
was a great mechanician and engineer, an anatomist, a 
botanist, a physiologist, an astronomer, a chemist, a 
geologist, and geographer, an insatiable and successful 
explorer, in a word, along the whole range of the physical 



and mathematical sciences. Serious students assure us 
that he was one of the very greatest and most clear-sighted, 
as well as one of the very earliest, of natural philosophers. 
They declare him to have been the founder of the study 
of the anatomy and structural classification of plants ; the 
founder, or at least the chief reviver, of the science of 
hydraulics ; to have anticipated many of the geometrical 
discoveries of Commandin, Autolycus, and Tartaglia ; to 
have divined, or gone far towards divining, the laws of 
gravitation, the earth's rotation, and the molecular com- 
position of water, the motion of waves, and even the 
undulatory theory of light and heat. He discovered the 
construction of the eye and the optical laws of vision, and 
invented the camera obscura. Among useful appliances 
he invented the saw, which is still in use in the marble 
quarries of Carrara, and a rope-making machine said to be 
better than any even yet in use. 

" He investigated the composition of explosives and the 
application of steam power ; he perceived that boats could 
be made to go by steam, and designed both steam-cannon 
and cannon to be loaded at the breech. He made in- 
numerable designs for engines of war, and plans of tunnels 
and canals for traffic. A few of his practical inventions 
were carried out in his time, but the vast majority . . . 
were left to be re-discovered piecemeal by the men of 
narrower genius who came after him." (Sidney Colvin, 
Slade Professor, Cambridge University, in " Encyclopeedia 
Britannica," vol. xiv. p. 456 et seg.) 

This manifold man, this " unrivalled master," we are 
told, " could draw with that ineffable Left Hand of 
HIS " (the words are those of his friend Luca Paccioli) " a 
line firmer, finer, and truer than has been drawn by the 
hand of any other man, excepting perhaps Albert Diirer." 

Is not the logical conclusion obvious and irresistible, 
viz. that if in these particular cases such results are uni- 
formly secured — and this by an irregular and limited course 
of instruction in adult life — Much More can and will 



Page 117 


be attained by a scientific system of two-handed training 
that shall be observed and followed in the child's life from 
the earliest dawn of manipulative effort to the very end of 
its school career ? 

One or two facts in support of this deduction may be 
mentioned. Ambidextrous handwriting (of course the 
style was what is known as " upright penmanship ") has 
been introduced and practised in many schools for several 
years with the happiest consequences. Notably in one 
school — an elementary one — the inspector strongly 
objected to the innovation when he was first informed of 
its adoption, but at the end of the first twelve months of 
the experiment (?) the Government report read as 
follows : — " In the teaching of handwriting an experiment 
in bimanual training has met with marked success " 
(April, 1899). It may be added that in this same school, 
when several copy-books, taken at random, were produced 
and submitted to the inspector that he might select those 
pages which had been done with the left hand and which 
with the right hand, he was more often wrong than right 
in his decisions. 

Furthermore, we have ourselves seen infants of six and 
seven years old draw simultaneously with both hands, on 
blackboards with chalk, natural objects in a most skilful 
manner that adults might even envy ; and one of our 
senior candidates from a girls' high school where Ambi- 
dextral instruction was practised, at a recent South Ken- 
sington examination in drawing, having injured her right 
hand, took the paper with her left hand and Passed 
WITH Honours. 

When it is taken into account that writing is the most 
complex exercise that the left hand can engage in, these 
achievements by single persons, as well as by groups of 
individuals, fully and finally prove the possibility of two- 
handed development. Sir W. R. Gowers asserts that 
" To involve approximate equality in the two hemispheres 
of the brain as well as full practical convenience, the use 



of the left hand must include writing as the most 
IMPORTANT Element." 
The capitals are ours. 

Sir James Sawyer also remarks : — " It will be found in 
practice that an excellent way for the acquirement of 
Ambidexterity is in the learning of sinistral handwriting 
with pen and ink. When a right-handed man can write 
comfortably with his left hand, most other sinistral 
accomplishments will be added unto him." 

The annual competitions in left-hand writing by school 
children that have now been conducted for several 
years, have produced marvellous results ; pupils often 
becoming better writers in a few weeks with their left hand 
than they were previously with their right hand ; and this 
even with girls in upper fifth forms, where the writing 
is generally considered as having become fairly matured 
and individualized ; and where the right hand has had a 
start of six, seven, or possibly nine or ten years. This 
subject of Ambidextral writing is more exhaustively 
treated, however, in a separate chapter. One or two 
specimens are here given that perhaps will convince the 
most sceptical of our readers. (See figs. 2, 3, and 4.) 

We think, therefore, that it has been satisfactorily 
established that Ambidextral skill of the highest order can 
be easily obtained, not only in the individual but in the 
mass ; not merely in things special, but in things general 
and universal ; and, moreover, that it can be secured 
without any diminution or depreciation of existing dextral 
ability. We go even still farther, and assert that an 
actual increase of right-handed sensitiveness, facility^and 
expertness will be the inevitable accompainment of left- 
handed cultivation and development. 

One of the most remarkable illustrations of this still 
more remarkable fact — viz. that the left hand will acquire 
in a very short time a calligraphic excellence that required 
many years with the right hand to attain — is afforded in 
the person and experience of the renowned Lord Nelson. 

^5Vru^ oTvQ/^ VK^e/^ ojue/ru 

Specimen of Left-hand Writing after six weeks' practice. 
Age of writer, fifteen years. 

Fig. 4. 

P.igc 118 


Lord Nelson's Writing before losing his right arm. 
Fig. S- 

Lord Nelson's Writing with his left hand shortly after losing his right arm. 

Fig. 6. 

Page 119 


In figure 5 we see his writing with his right hand — 
the production of many years' training and of many more 
years^ practice — whilst in figure 6 there is exhibited 
his sinistral penmanship, which was executed only a short 
time after losing his right arm. Both these specimens 
are taken direct from original documents in the British 
Museum. It will surely be acknowledged that the left- 
handwriting, in its natural uprightness and in its bold but 
rounded outlines, much more faithfully delineates Nelson's 
character than the effeminate and extremely sloping 
style that was the result of an external influence and 

And this phenomenon is typical of the general result of 
Ambidextral culture. 

The opinion expressed above as to the actual possibility 
of true two-handedness is not a solitary one by any means, 
for the views of those best qualified to judge — viz. the 
men who have observed, studied, tested, and experi- 
mented — are almost unanimous that " There can be no 
doubt that children can be taught to use both hands with 
equal freedom and facility. . . . Therefore the left hand 
ought to be educated from the first no less than the 
right" (Sir Daniel Wilson), for "there is no difference in 
the senses of the two sides, and there is no difference in 
the anatomy of the two hands." Again the capitals are 
our own. 

The possibility of a general Ambidexterity as 
A universal acquirement is therefore satisfac- 
torily demonstrated. 



Since the Ambidextral Culture Society sprang into being 
in 1903 no little discussion has been rife as to the exact 
signification of certain terms, one of which, Ambi- 
dexterity, has excited more than ordinary interest. We 
are not careful as to what decisions may be arrived at 
concerning these words with the exception of the one 
named, and we are quite content to accept the definition 
of it as found in that eminent lexicographer's dictionary 
that has proved the basis of many subsequent similar 
productions. Dr. Johnson says that Ambidexterity is 
" The quality of being able to use either hand with almost 
equal facility." Our own definition for the somewhat 
pedantic compound is " Two-handedness " ; and this 
surely expresses all that need be said to define it. 

The actual hair-splitting distinction that is said to 
exist between the terms Ambidexterity, Two-handedness, 
and Either-handedness, is quite a secondary considera- 
tion. For all practical purposes they may be accepted as 

The object of this chapter is to set forth as forcibly and 
clearly as possible the advantages accruing to any and 
every individual vjho may acquire the faculty of using 
both hands with equal facility. 

And what so natural, what so reasonable, as to suppose 
that the more perfectly our limbs, members and organs 
are developed, and the more dextrous and useful they 
become, the better it is for us whether as individuals or 


as a race ? Is not this the sole object of all true educa- 
tion, whether that education be special or general ? 
Whether it be moral, mental, or physical, should not the 
aim be to cultivate every faculty to its maximum develop- 
ment ? Are not our hands given to us for this very 
purpose ? And why one more than the other ? Why 
should not both hands be as equally skilful as they 
undoubtedly are equally endowed, and equally capable 
for the performance of every function, exercise, and 
occupation that either of them can be called upon to 
engage in ? Why should they not be actually inter- 
changeable in every kind of manipulative work just as 
they are in a few special industries and professions, such 
as pianoforte-playing, surgery, &c. ? Is there any obvious 
advantage in letting one of our hands do most of the 
work, and the other very little of it — in depriving our- 
selves of at least 30 per cent, of our effective working 
power ? And is there any justification for making such an 
invidious distinction between the two lobes of the brain, 
laying double strain upon the left, and relegating the 
right to inaction and atrophy, whilst as an inevitable 
consequence the right hand, and hence the left brain, is 
educated to a dangerous activity, the intelligence and 
ability of the left hand being smothered in sloth and 
neglect ? ^ 

Some little progress has been already made in the 
campaign inaugurated by the Society named, and it is 
gratifying to note that wherever the experiment has been 
tried. Bimanual training has had a most beneficial effect 
upon the scholars and students — not merely in the 
additional manual skill acquired, but also in an increased 
mental acumen, and a material improvement in bilateral 
symmetry and physical balance. 

Theoretically the advantages of two-handedness are 

1 The left lobe drives and controls the right side of the body, and 
the right lobe controls the left side. 



incalculable ; practically they are not one whit less 

valuable. For convenience they may be divided into 

(i) Medical or Physiological; (2) Mechanical; (3) 
Economical ; (4) Miscellaneous. 

I. The Medical or Physiological Advantages. 

These are two-fold : (a) Preventive, and (d) Positive. 

(a) Preventive. — According to Sir W. R. Gowers, M.D., 
there is every reason to believe that Aphasia, or loss of 
speech, would be to a great extent prevented by the 
general adoption of Ambidextral teaching. We quote his 
remarks on the point : — 

" One strange fact must be noted. Although these 
centres are apparently similar on the two sides, only those 
speech centres on the left side of the adult brain have a 
special relation to the will. Not only are the centres 
similar in the two hemispheres, and connected in a similar 
way with the organs for utterance and hearing, but those 
on the two sides are connected with each other by fibres 
which pass between them, and form part of the great 
connecting mass between the hemispheres. Yet onl\' the 
left centre can manage voluntary speech. 

" It is indeed a mysterious fact. If the lowest part of 
the central convolutions on the right side is destroyed by 
disease, speech is not interfered with beyond the slightest 
transient weakness of articulation. If, in an adult, the 
same region on the left side is destroyed, the result is 
absolute loss of power of voluntary utterance. Words 
cannot be produced by the will ; there is * Aphasia.' . . . 

" This relation of the processes for language to the left 
side of the brain is unquestionably connected with right- 
handedness. Every one knows, or should know, that the 
relation of each half-brain to the body is crossed, and that 
the right hand is worked by the left part of the brain, 
which subserves voluntary speech. Persons who are left- 
handed present the same defects of speech in disease of 


the right hemisphere of the brain as right-handed persons 
do in disease of the left. They are right-brained. 

" Destruction of the motor speech centre, in the left 
half-brain of the adult, causes absolute loss of power of 
producing words. It is not defect of articulation, but 
inability to produce the motor arrangement for words to 
act on the structures which cause articulation. As already 
stated, ' yes ' and ' no ' are usually regained before long, 
and it is curious and perhaps a significant fact that ' no ' 
always returns before ' yes.' Some persons never regain 
any other use of words ; other persons, in the course of a 
few months, acquire a very considerable amount of 
voluntary speech which goes on increasing. This must 
be by the acquisition of this special use by the right 
hemisphere, because the speech that has been regained is 
again lost if there is afterwards similar disease of this 
hemisphere. But the fact that there is this variation 
between different individuals in the amount of speech 
regained — that is, in the capacity for substitutionary work 
by the right hemisphere — is a fact of great importance. 

" A related fact is also of importance for those concerned 
in education. In children destruction of the left motor 
speech centre never causes lasting loss of speech as it 
does in adults. However complete the loss may be at 
first, speech is regained, and, before long, it is difficult to 
detect any imperfection. There must, therefore, be a 
capacity for the acquisition of voluntary speech processes 
on the right side of the young which there is not in the 

" These facts show that the exclusive relation of 
voluntary speech to the left brain is due to the disuse for 
speech of the right brain : it seems to occur in the 
transition from childhood to youth, and it is related to 
the use of the right hand. 

"An important question is thus raised. . . . What 
would be the effect on the functions of the brain of the 
systematic cultivation of Ambidexterity ? By this I mean 



the systematic compulsory use of the right and left hands 
equally for all manual occupations, including writing. . . . 
The result would certainly be, as far as can be judged 
from present facts, to secure an immunity from the grave 
effects on speech of disease of either side of the brain, 
should such disease occur." 

This disease of Aphasia, together with its related 
"Agraphia," is becoming more prevalent every day, a 
circumstance calculated to raise serious apprehensions as 
to the future, if nothing be done to arrest its advance. 

We cannot be indifferent to the alarming nature of a 
malady that deprives its victim of the power of speech, so 
that he can neither read, nor read to himself, nor can he 
write, either from himself or from dictation : he can 
merely understand what is said or read to him. 

As with Aphasia and Agraphia, so with other kindred 
cramps that afflict thousands of sufferers ; there is there- 
fore the more significance in the comments of the writer 
just quoted, and also of "The Lancet." Sir W. R. Gowers 
says : " Among the chances of this mortal life, one that is 
not to be disregarded by the breadwinner is temporary or 
permanent inability to use the right hand through disease 
or accident. This is especially conspicuous in disastrous 
effect when one who earns the ' living ' of himself and 
others by writing develops the persistently increasing 
cramp which at last makes working impossible. . . . The 
power of using the left would be of very high value in 
these cases. Not less, moreover, with equal ability to use 
either hand, would be the opportunity thus afforded of 
giving useful rest to one or the other, in the many 
occupations that involve long fatiguing strain. Who, 
with many hours' hard writing to do, would not be 
thankful for the power of using either hand with the same 
facility, and of resting one or the other as fatigue 
enjoins ? " 

And similarly " The Lancet " : " There can be no doubt 
that a clerk who could write with equal facility with 


either hand, and could rest one side of the body while the 
other was working, would be little liable to Writer's 
Cramp and similar toubles." 

Dr. G. V. Poore, whose experience in the treatment of 
" Nervous Diseases of the Hand " is so varied and 
extensive, refers to this frequent complaint as : " ' Writer's 
Cramp,' so called because it is infinitely the most common 
of all, and because, in the stress of the nineteenth- 
century competition, it bids fair to become still more 
common. I am sure I have seen and closely examined 
and studied at least three hundred of these cases." He 
also informs us that : " Congenital left-handedness is not 
an infrequent cause of writing difficulty, and these 
patients will tell you that writing has always been to 
them a labour and a sorrow, and you will learn that, 
whereas they perform almost all other delicate acts with 
the left hand, they have been driven to use the right for 
penmanship by dint of the obstinacy of their writing 
masters," And again he offers " one word " of explanation 
as to " prevention " of this fell disease, a word as 
significant as it is decisive : " The only remedy for this is 
to teach the child to write with both hands, which 
I believe might easily be done. The writing would have 
to be upright instead of sloping. We educate the left 
hand far too little. Girls in this respect are better off 
than boys, for such exercises as piano-playing and knitting 
encourage a great amount of Ambidexterity in girls. Why 
should not the clerk use either hand alternately, and so 
give to each its much-needed rest ? 

" What effect has the exercise of the periphery upon 
the development of the centre ? By constantly using the 
left hand for written language, might we not possibly 
educate our right Broca's convolution instead of letting it 
lie idle ? 

" I once gave utterance to these opinions and specula- 
tions at the bedside, and at their conclusion a student of 
more than ordinary intelligence asked me whether the 



extreme fluency of the female organs of speech might not 
be due to the fact that the right side of women's brains 
had been developed by a more constant use of the left 
hand than is common in males ? " 

Medical men indeed seem to be unanimous as to the 
many and material advantages of a two-handed develop- 
ment, as will be seen from the following specimens. 

Dr. James Shaw writes : — " I quite agree with you as 
to the many and great advantages of Ambidexterity. 
Some of them, e.g. the prevention of Aphasia and the 
avoidance of Writer's Cramp, have, owing to my special 
attention to nervous and mental diseases, been before my 
mind for many years. It is also obvious that the help- 
lessness of a hemiplegic patient, or of one whose leading 
hand or arm has been lost or seriously injured, would be 
very much diminished if he had been previously Ambi- 

Dr. Hollis asserts : — " We cannot doubt that had such 
a person, from his childhood, learnt to write readily with 
either hand, the paralytic seizure would have been post- 
poned. ... It is, perhaps, too much to say that none of 
these attacks would have taken place had the patients 
allowed each side of the brain to participate equally in 
the work, but, speaking with some reservation, I believe 
it is probable that the disease would have been indefi- 
nitely postponed had their education been other than 

Beyond all this, there are other serious ailments 
specially incident to school life that would be ameliorated, 
if not, indeed, entirely avoided. " Spinal Curvature " 
affects large numbers of our children, who, in multitudes 
of instances, remain deformed or crippled for life ; and 
this serious disease is very often induced by the constant 
assumption of certain bad postures which engender this 

Mr. Noble Smith, F.R.C.S. Edin., writes : — " I consider 
that the teaching of Ambidexterity in elementary and 


secondary education is one of the most valuable inno- 
vations in tuition of the age. Surgeons and physicians 
who specially study the physical and mental development 
of growing children have again and again urged the im- 
portance of preventing the assumption of bad postures, 
but it has been a hard task to overcome the one-sided 
tendencies of right-handed pupils. The teaching of 
Ambidexterity gets rid of the prime cause of this one- 
sidedness, and tends not only to develop the body 
symmetrically, but also to exercise the brain and all other 
great functional centres equally. Ambidexterity will, I 
believe, do more to prevent bodily deformity than all the 
elaborate systems of exercises (valuable as they are) upon 
which we have greatly depended, and will tend to correct 
those deformities when once engendered." 

Then there are other affections, both pulmonary and 
gastric, that would be sensibly diminished by the relief 
afforded to the body by such an alternation of hands 
and frequent change of posture as Ambidextral skill 
alone renders possible. Hence it is safe to conclude that 
the Preventive Advantages of Two-handedness are so 
numerous and valuable, yea, and vital also, as to justify 
and demand its introduction and teaching generally 
throughout our primary and secondary schools. 

{b) Positive. — However, it is when, in this physio- 
logical relation, we consider the positive benefits accruing 
from a universal Ambidexterity that we are irresistibly 
convinced of its undoubted virtues. From the testimony 
of our great neurologists we conclude that by this 
symmetrical development of both hands the brain speech 
area would be doubled, and the lobe which in one- 
handedness suffers atrophy of its motor speech centre and 
processes through disuse, would no longer be subject to 
that deterioration and loss; the entire mentality would 
consequently be quickened, and the intellectual powers 
materially strengthened. Wherever Ambidexterity has 
been taught, even to a very limited extent and in a very 



few subjects, this assumption has been fully confirmed, 
and the most surprising results in these respects have 
been recorded. 

Mr. J. L. Tadd, who has taught two-handed work in 
his large classes at the Philadelphia Public School of 
Industrial Art, of which he has been director for the past 
twenty years, speaks in the highest terms of the effect 
upon his scholars and students. " The result of this work 
has only to be seen for one to become impressed with its 
value as a medium for the education of the individual. 
The most sceptical are convinced by the perfect results 
produced, the simplicity of the work, the almost instant 
balance and symmetry, and the visible development in 
the direction most to be desired in the education of the 
hand, the eye, and the mind. . . . The pupils stand 
better, hold their heads more erect and level. In a word, 
they have more understanding. The reason we do 
Ambidextral work is for the physical co-ordination ac- 
quired. Biology teaches that the more the senses are 
co-ordinated to work in harmony in the individual the 
better. ... In truth, I exercise some special region or 
centre of the brain in every conscious movement I make, 
and in every change of movement I bring into play some 
other centre. I am firmly convinced that the better and 
firmer the union of each hand with its proper hemisphere 
of the brain, and the more facility we have of working 
the two together, and also independently, the better the 
brain and mind, and the better the thought, the reason, 
and the imagination will be. The results of this method 
have fully demonstrated this fact ; as the teachings of 
modern science, and specially of psychology, have fully 
established the truth of this contention." 

A very curious effect, and one not less important, is 
met with in the development of this two-handedness or 
two-handed culture. Incredible as it might seem, the 
right hand benefits to a sensible extent by the co-opera- 
tion and training of the left. It is not a question of 


changing the superlative dexterity of one hand, the right, 
for an inferior or second-rate facility and expertness in 
two ; for there is not a doubt that the naturally dexter 
hand becomes — by the sympathy and cultivation of its 
sinistral fellow — more sensitive and capable than it can 
or would otherwise be. Teachers write me saying that 
their pupils repeatedly assure them of the fact that they 
" find it easier to write with their right hands, now they 
have to write with their left also." And after twelve 
years' observation of his Ambidextral teaching, Mr. Tadd 
contends : — 

" I claim better results for the right hand when the 
left is worked also, than from the right hand working 
alone in the same space of time in almost any kind of 

But there is yet another benefit accruing from such 
an innovation that we think has escaped general notice. 
I cannot help thinking that by the equal training of both 
hands (which, as we have seen, carries along with it the 
sequential development or organization of the two brain 
lobes, also equally and similarly) the moral sense will 
be perceptibly, if not proportionately, raised ; that the 
individual will thus be enabled to discern more readily 
and surely right from wrong; and that he will also be 
stronger both to follow the right and to resist the wrong 
than he could be as a lopsided person with only one 
brain-lobe fully and perfectly organized. 

If I am not mistaken, Dr. Wigan entertained the same 
view, and since these lines were first written I find that 
Dr. Seguin mentions this phenomenon as being an 
invariable accompaniment of his system of Ambidextral 
hand-training of the feeble-minded and idiot children under 
his care. He says : " The necessity of working the hand 
is urged even upon higher grounds than mere physical 
or intellectual advantages." And he goes on to show how 
immoral habits and tendencies, in all their diversified 
manifestations amongst the idiots and imbeciles, diminish 




according as the powers of prehension and intelHgent 
handhng develop themselves, and just as the hand 
becomes more and more the instrument of expression for 
the mind. 

I have no doubt that the near future will yield some 
results in this direction of a very remarkable kind, and 
that morality and manual development will be found to 
be more closely allied than we at present suspect. 

Dr. Wigan remarks : — " I believe myself to have good 
reasons for asserting that feeble intellect is accompanied 
by imperfect command of the fingers, and that, notwith- 
standing the difference of origin, the two are almost 
always conjoined. It is a common remark (often laughed 
at) that you may tell a man's degree of intellect by his 
handwriting ; and, with considerable limitation, there is 
truth in the assertion, I never yet saw a feeble, un- 
decided mode of writing in a man of strong talent. How- 
ever bad or illegible, there are always force and decision. 
The converse of the proposition does not, however, hold 
good ; because the muscular power of the fingers may be 
cultivated by tuition and practice, till a half-witted man 
shall write like one that is sensible, as we see among 
attorneys' copying clerks, who all write exactly alike. 
The want of control over the hands is, however, generally 
an accompaniment of weak intellect, and in extreme 
idiocy they absolutely hang down from the wrists, and 
there is no power over them whatever." 

Indeed, the vital connection between the brain and the 
hands is nowhere so clearly shown as in the treatment of 
the feeble-minded children. The paramount importance 
of hand-training as a brain-organizing potency is con- 
clusively established in the following extracts from Dr. 
Seguin's works : — 

" The general training embraces the muscular, imita- 
tive, nervous, and reflective functions, which are sus- 
ceptible of being called into play at any moment. All 
that pertains to movement, as locomotion and special 


motions ; prehension, manipulation, and palpation, by 
dint of strength or exquisite delicacy ; imitation and 
communication from mind to mind through languages, 
signs, and symbols ; all that is to be treated thoroughly. 

" Then from imitation is derived drawing, from draw- 
ing writing, and from writing reading, which implies the 
most extended use of the voice in speaking, music, &c. 
The same provision is to be made for the use of both 
sides of the body; the left being made competent to do 
anything for the right. 

" Prior to any education, the hands are like impedi- 
ments, if not brandished upwards by automatism, im- 
pressing their disharmony upon the rest of the body. 
This being almost always the case with our children, we 
cannot improve either their walk or conception without 
improving their hands and arms, at least as instruments 
of equilibrium. 

"When we come to consider the hand in idiots as an 
instrument of function, we are not more struck with its 
physiological disorders or deficiencies than with the 
almost universal anomalies of the organ. Considering 
the gravity of this infirmity as shutting the being out 
from any intercourse and creating the most positive 
isolation, the task of teaching prehension can never be 
commenced too soon. 

" The hand is to be trained for years in these exercises. 
Prehension is more physical, handling more intellectual. 

" The hand is the best servant of man, the best 
instrument of work, the best translator of thoughts. 

" The most important use of the hand, its aggressive 
capacity, is generally assisted by adjuvant instruments. 

"The sense of touch being the most general, and in 
fact all the other senses being mere modifications of it, 
we shall begin by it the training of the child. 

" The tactile function is the most important of our 

" The experiments are of three kinds : first, to culti- 



vate the perception ; second, to transmit it ; and third, to 
give the knowledge of it." 

As a medium, then, for training the eye and for 
developing the mind, the hand stands alone. Its potency 
in these respects will be seen in the following typical 
example : — 

The hand of an idiot child before training was small, 
the nails were dry and brittle, the fingers short and badly 
finished. There was no power of resistance to pressure, 
no use in the hand whatever. Movement there was, 
but it was purely automatic, and the child was quite 
unable to carry out the simplest direction which involved 
voluntary action. 

The result of one year's daily training of this inter- 
action and reciprocal action between the brain centres 
and the peripheral nerves is simply amazing. 

The child had learnt to help itself, to occupy itself, to 
amuse itself. It ceased to shove its fingers into its mouth 
to be bitten, and it ceased to strike its companions. The 
touch was developed so far that the child would appreciate 
the ordinary differences of temperature in air, water, and 
food, and would recognize and name blindfold by mere 
sense of touch some fifty objects. 

He learnt to recognize many things, to hold things, 
to put things down, to grasp, throw, &c., and it took 
him a year before his hands, at first as flaccid as in death, 
could button a button or brush his coat. 

Thus we see that the dormant spark of intelligence — 
the latent germ of Mind — can only be evoked, can only 
be developed, by Hand Culture. But it is equally true 
that the healthy mind is likewise dependent to a wonder- 
ful degree upon the hand for its growth and develop- 
ment ; and hence similar results invariably follow upon 
the adoption of Ambidextral training in certain of our 

Once more, Hand Culture and Memory Culture are 
inseparably connected. It has been known for many 


years by those whose work it is to study brain development 
that by the cultivation of both hands the memory is 
sensibly and permanently strengthened. Such discoveries 
may seem incredible to the lay mind and to the ordinary 
reader, but so true is this fact that our great memory 
specialists and those who have devoted much time and 
labour to the investigation of memory development are 
unanimous in recommending two-handedness as one of 
the most powerful adjuncts to strengthen the retentive 
and reliable qualities of the memory. Thus, " Mr. Pelman 
has for years been advocating and teaching the value of 
Ambidexterity " as a memory developer ! 

When the inestimable value of a thoroughly retentive 
and reliable memory is once appreciated, the expediency — 
nay, the necessity — of a universal system of Ambidextral 
Culture will be immediately insisted upon by every 
rational mind. 

We cannot afford in these days of such keen competi- 
tion to neglect, or even to undervalue, any aid to efficiency, 
any element of strength, or any essential factor in the 
product of our individual personality, or of our national 
constitution ; wherefore, when we meet with such a 
potency, such an undoubted agency for the advantaging 
of our people, it becomes obligatory to utilise it, that 
nothing be lost. 

If, then, with only a partial education of the sinistral 
hand, if with only an imperfectly developed two-handed- 
ness, such beneficial results are obtained, physically, 
morally, and mentally, what may not be confidently 
anticipated from a complete and scientific scheme of 
Ambidextral instruction that shall include every grade of 
school, and every possible variety of manual occupation ? 
In any case, it must be conceded that by no other means 
can our children secure the maximum good from their 
school life and training. And it will also be admitted 
that the uniformity in the results already obtained under 
circumstances relatively very disadvantageous, warrants 



the assumption that a material improvement of our people, 
both in physical and mental calibre, would inevitably 
follow the adoption of such a scheme of general Bimanual 

2. The Mechanical Advantages. 

In the world of Industrial Art, in the domain of 
professional manipulation, in the realms of manufacture, 
sport, and unskilled labour, fully matured two-handedness 
would be of the most supreme value. It is impossible to 
estimate the worth of such a universal faculty permeating 
every department of life and activity. There are not less 
than 500 occupations (and possibly there may be almost 
double that number) in which the worker will reap no 
little advantage by the possession of two equally and 
perfectly dextrous hands ; whilst in a large proportion of 
them such a facility is essential, e.g. in carving, engrav- 
ing, modelling, and chasing. 

Now what are the specific benefits accruing to the 
individual in such a case ? First of all, there is the 
advantage of alternation, where the worker can rest each 
hand in turn as it becomes tired or fatigued by long- 
continued strain. Thus, not only is the worker himself 
advantaged, but the work itself is of a higher type and 
certainly superior by being executed by a vigorous hand ; 
and herein lies a second advantage, that a material im- 
provement in the workmanship is effected. Furthermore, 
by this avoidance of overstrain and undue fatigue, the 
clerk, artizan, author, and all other such workers, are not 
only better fitted for their daily duties and better qualified 
to meet any emergency, but their powers of endurance 
will be strengthened, and they will naturally live longer 
and more happily than they could otherwise do. The 
dire effects of over-pressure are thus minimized, if not 
altogether averted, and a general raising of the health- 
standard will inevitably ensue. 

The advantages of this Ambidextral qualification, then, 


are, in the words of Sir W. R. Gowers, " utterly incon- 
ceivable by those who have never possessed them." 

" In my scientific work I have accustomed myself to 
the use of both hands almost with equal facility. In very 
delicate work, such as section-cutting and diatom mount- 
ing, or very delicate dissecting, I soon acquired the ability 
to use either hand with equal facility, thereby saving time 
and securing better results." (The Rev. Dr. Dallinger.) 

" The advantages to an ophthalmic operator, of being 
Ambidextrous, are very great." (Dr. Simeon SnelL). 

" The training of each hand for writing or other 
mechanical work is good, and likely to prove in a high 
degree useful." (Dr. H. Charlton Bastian.) 

" It is of the greatest service to me to be able to 
manipulate with both hands with nearly equal dexterity." 
(Professor H. N. Morse.) 

" If such teaching is good for the seeing, it is far more 
necessary for the blind. You speak of pianoforte and 
organ playing, but it is most useful for our pupils in all 
departments. We endeavour to carry out this principle 
in all our physical training." (Dr. F. J. Campbell.) 

" I am very much in favour of encouraging the use of 
the left hand for independent action, as it has always 
seemed to me inexplicable that the function of the left 
hand should, by almost universal practice, be regarded as 
merely auxiliary to the right. When a boy, I trained my 
left hand to be as familiar as its fellow with foil, single- 
stick, knife, scissors, &c., and I even learned to write." 
(Surgeon-General A. F. Bradshaw, C.B., Hon. Physician 
to the King.) 

It is not possible to describe in detail the advantages 
springing from the possession of Ambidextral skill in 
our handicrafts, and in all mechanical work ; they are 
more fully treated elsewhere ; but before passing from the 
subject it may be well to draw attention to the great 
advantage possessed by an Ambidexter in Handwriting 



By the term Ambidexter is meant one who can not 
merely write interchangeably, and equally well, with both 
hands, but who is also able to write with both hands at 
once, whether the matter is the same or quite different. 
That children can learn this rare and valuable accomplish- 
ment as easily as they can one-handed writing, is indis- 
putable, and that they can become as adept at the work 
is just as true, for both facts have been demonstrated 
again and again in actual practice in the individual and 
in class tuition. 

It is no exaggeration to say that in this one depart- 
ment of calligraphy the advantages of two-handedness 
are immense, more particularly to clerks, reporters and 
literary men. 

3. Economical Advantages. 

The economical value of Ambidextral development is 
of almost equal importance. We do not theorize here. 
The saving is a very concrete factor in all manual 
exercises. The child at school learns more quickly, 
apprehends more instinctively and immediately, acquires 
more surely, retains more permanently, and executes 
more deftly; hence the teaching power is lessened or 
lightened, and the school-life of the pupil sensibly 

Leaving the schoolroom for the workshop, the draw- 
ing office, the factory, or the cricket field, what a 
tremendous saving is effected in learning any of these 
crafts or sports if the apprentice, articled pupil, or student 
is a full-fledged and perfect Ambidexter ! Not only will 
the work be mastered much sooner, but in all after time 
the workman will be more expert and better qualified for 
the execution of his daily duties. It is unnecessary to 
dwell longer on this part of our argument, since it is 
patent to every one that the possession of two fully 
equipped and skilful hands must invest the workman 
with a qualification that shall secure an economy of time 


and workmanship that will indisputably prove the 
financial value of Ambidexterity in this respect. From 
the economical standpoint it pays to be truly Two-handed. 

4. Miscellaneous Advantages. 

There are manifold and collateral advantages in- 
separable from Ambidexterity, and of a somewhat mis- 
cellaneous character, that are worthy of notice. For 
example, with respect to our Navy and Army (both 
Regulars and Volunteers) we have it on unimpeachable 
authority that the effective strength of both services 
would be very much increased. Our Jack Tar is much 
more Ambidextrous than his brother Tommy Atkins, or 
than the ordinary civilian. But were all our soldiers 
and sailors capable of wielding the sword, carbine or the 
rifle equally with either hand, firing from either shoulder 
with equal rapidity and precision, and using the left 
hand (or the second one, whichever it might be) when 
the other was disabled, with perfect skill and un- 
diminished vigour, surely their fighting efficiency would 
be increased at least 30 to 50 per cent. Is not this a 
desideratum to be resolutely contended for? 

The testimony of Major-General R. S. S. Baden- 
Powell, C.B., is specially relevant to this point. He says : — 
"There is no doubt that the value of Ambidexterity from 
a military point of view is immense. I do not consider 
man is a thoroughly trained soldier unless he can mount 
equally well on either side of his horse, use the sword, 
pistol, and lance equally well with both hands, and shoot 
off the left shoulder as rapidly and accurately as from the 

If these things are indeed so, what is our War 
Department doing to neglect such a vital element of 
strength and efficiency? Can we afford thus to trifle 
with our country's interests and safety ? 

And what would be the consequences in the region of 



penmanship were Ambidextral Instruction to become the 
law of the land ? One result and advantage of great 
value would be to banish once and for ever those terribly 
injurious styles of Sloping Writing that work such havoc 
on the spines, the lungs, and the eyes of our school 
children, and to introduce Upright or Vertical Hand- 
writing, that is not only equally adapted to both hands, 
but that is so easy and natural to produce, and that is 
in the highest degree at once Hygienic, Legible and 

One of the greatest merits of this proposed innovation 
is the absolute ease with which it can be introduced. 
Radical reforms as a rule make heavy demands upon 
our resources or organization, but in this instance the 
contrary is the case. No costly apparatus, no intricate 
machinery, no extra staff, and no expensive text-books 
are required. Not one additional piece of school furniture, 
not one interference with the usual routine, and still the 
proposed reformation may be an accomplished fact 
throughout the length and breadth of the land without 
a hitch and without a shock. A fiat from the Education 
Board to-day, and to-morrow the systematic teaching of 
Ambidexterity would be methodically taught to every 
pupil and in every school, whilst the existence of a nation 
of accomplished Ambidexters would be practically ensured. 
This is not an exaggeration. Nor is it essential that our 
teachers should have any preliminary preparation for the 
teaching of the subject. If they can teach the child to 
use its right hand, even so they are equally competent to 
teach it to use its left. In writing, transcription, dicta- 
tion, arithmetic and other manual exercises, the left hand 
simply and similarly shares the work to be done ; so in 
drawing, carpentry, cookery, sewing, games, and all other 
occupations. By this easy transition the children will 
become adepts in two-handed work in a comparatively 
short time, and a corresponding improvement will be 
observed in all departments of the school. 


It must ever be borne in mind that Ambidextral Culture 
aims at {a) developing the building power in thought by- 
exercising the channels of expression ; {b) stimulating 
activity of perception ; {c) increasing facility of expression 
in writing and every other manual function ; {d) organizing 
the speech and motor areas and centres of the brain ; 
{e) securing the greatest skill and the most perfect technique ; 
and (/) qualifying for the greatest number of occupations. 

To exhibit in the best way the miscellaneous advan- 
tages of Ambidexterity, recourse shall be had to the 
evidence of those who are either possessed of the faculty 
themselves, or who have investigated and studied the 
subject theoretically and professionally, and who are 
therefore well qualified to speak with some authority on 
the question. 

" I desire to join in recommending the general culture 
and adoption of Ambidexterity. I have given some 
attention to the subject for many years. Each of our 
hands is capable of all those refinements and all that 
precision of movement which are usually only developed 
and exercised by the right hand. Perhaps there is no 
other occupation in which it is not an advantage to be 
able to use either hand with a power equal to that of its 
fellow. In our manifold profession Ambidexterity is a 
great equipment. Ambidexterity would prevent many 
occupation pareses. ... It would tend to a more equal 
use, and to an alternative and reciprocally resting use, 
of the two sides of the brain. It might prevent, or help 
in the cure of, some cases of hemicrania. Perhaps it 
might prevent some cases of hemiplegia." (Sir James 
Sawyer, M.D.) 

" Education, training by persistent effort, will overcome 
the natural tendency to dextral preference, and will 
render the individual more clever with the non-preferred 
hand, more equally adroit with both sides of his body, 
more symmetrical in muscular growth ; will tend to 
equalize the two halves of the brain, giving a better 



cerebral development, and will consequently render 
him more serviceable to society and himself." (Dr. 

" Very many of those who are strongly left-handed 
have found their peculiarity a very decided advantage to 
them. . . . By learning to write and to perform other 
delicate movements with the right hand, they acquire, 
without impairing the natural aptitude of the left hand, 
much more dexterity with the right than right-handed 
persons ever attain to with their left hand, and thus in 
many cases reach a degree of Ambidexterity which renders 
them, instead of gauche, peculiarly clever and skilful 
in their manipulations. It is amongst those originally 
left-handed persons that men would be found like David's 
companions, who could use both the right hand and the 
left in slinging stones and in ' shooting arrows from the 
bow.' " (Dr. R. A. Lundie.) 

Dr. R. A. Lithgow says he has found his " double- 
handed condition of the utmost utility in midwifery and 

Dr. Hollis strongly urges that we should " adopt a 
system of education which will enforce an equal promi- 
nence to both sides of the brain in all intellectual opera- 
tions. Physicians have already learned to relieve the right 
eye and ear by employing them in turn with the left at 
the microscope and stethoscope." 

Charles Reade, writing to the " Daily Telegraph " some 
years ago, argued, and trul}^ too, that if the habitual use 
of the right hand led to a greater development of the left 
side of the brain, a further acquired use of the left hand 
would aid the development of the right lobe, and by that 
means increase the general power of the brain. This 
unanswerable argument, so interesting and applicable to 
every individual member of the human race, seems to 
have fallen on deaf ears, for although there was a vigorous 
correspondence, the subject dropped as suddenly and com- 
pletely as if it had been the most trivial and contemptible 


nonsense that ever dribbled from the fingers of the feeblest 

Let any serious-minded man sit down and estimate, if 
he can, the appalling loss in brain power, in inventive 
genius, in muscular energy, in effective fighting strength, 
in time and money, that our British Empire is suffering 
every day of its existence by neglecting to avail itself of 
this wonderful potency that is lying dormant in its very 
(left) hand. But there is still more to follow, and of a still 
more convincing character. 

The following remarks, taken from an important work 
published one hundred years ago, will show that these 
views are by no means new or extravagant : — 

" It may be imputed to education and habit, that men 
as well as brutes are not all Ambidexters, there being no 
difference of right and left in the nature of things. Nurses 
are even forced to be at some pains to insure the infants 
under their care to forego the use of their left hand. 
How far it may be our advantage to be deprived of half 
our natural dexterity, may be doubted. It is certain that 
there are infinite occasions in life when it would be better 
to have the equal use of both hands. Surgeons and 
oculists are of necessity obliged to be Ambidexters. 

" Divers instances occur in history where the use of the 
left hand has been cultivated preferably to the right. 
Plato (B.C. 420 — 347) enjoins Ambidexterity to be observed 
and encouraged in his Republic. 

"In the Grecian armies their more distinguished 
soldiers, their pikemen and halberdeers, as those who 
formed the first line of their battalions, were to be able to 
fight indifferently with the left hand or the right. 

"An ingenious French writer is surprised that, among 
all the modern refinements in the art of war, none have 
thought of restoring the ancient practice of forming Ambi- 
dexters, which, it is certain, might be of considerable 
service in the way of stratagem. 

" In performing on keyed instruments, the harp, the 



dulcimer, and such as have a separate part for each hand, 
Ambidexterity is necessary. On the pianoforte and organ, 
two right hands are so necessary, that a child rigidly 
prohibited the use of the left hand in the common offices 
of life can never have a powerful left hand in performing 
on the instruments just mentioned ; but in rapid divisions, 
fugues, and imitations, the clumsiness with which difficult 
passages are performed with the left hand disgraces the 
player and injures the composition. In the serious studies 
and practice of the student on the pianoforte intended 
for the profession, it might be necessary for him perhaps 
to try to execute all kinds of feeble passages, shakes, and 
trills with the left hand till they can be played with so 
much ease and brilliancy, that a distant hearer, out of 
sight of the instrument, shall not be certain which hand 
has been employed." 

Another advantage of Ambidexterity is the faculty of 
simultaneous or concurrent work which it confers. There 
are many occasions in life where this coincident dual 
action of the two hands is of the first importance, there 
are even more of the handicrafts of trade where the same 
thing is demanded, and where continual two-handed 
activity is essential to the industry or occupation, as in 
weaving and piano-playing. 

And, again, divers situations will arise and frequent 
emergencies will be met with in life where dual dexterity 
and simultaneous action are of vital consequence. To be 
able at such times and seasons to use both hands with 
equal and independent facility and expertness will often 
prevent a broken limb and save a threatened life. The 
philosophy of concurrent handwork may well be relegated 
to a separate chapter, but that the power of using the 
two hands with equal dexterity in simultaneous and 
unrelated movement is an inestimable possession, cannot 
be gainsaid or disputed. 

An ordinary course of Ambidextral training, therefore, 
will enable every child to exercise a complete mastery 


over both hands in this respect ; and on leaving school 
each candidate for life's honours, whether boy or girl, will 
be competent to write two different letters at the same 
time, draw and write at the same time, and use both 
hands in any other two (similar, or totally distinct) move- 
ments or actions concurrently, without the necessity of 
painful preliminary training and practice. 

Having ascertained the effects of Ambidexterity on the 
individual, it may reasonably be asked, what about the 
mass, the nation, and the race ? History, ancient and 
recent, furnishes a complete and satisfactory answer to 
the question. 

In the first place we must hark back to " a people who 
flourished and, according to Sir Isaac Newton, who 
spread themselves over lesser Asia and Europe before the 
year of the Flood — 1220 — that is about the latter period 
of the Israelitish Judges." 

We are told then that " by the laws of the ancient 


Now their history is very remarkable reading, and the 
following description of them is gathered from such 
writers as Justin, Thucydides, Pliny, Herodotus, Lucian, 
and Josephus, not one of whom recognizes any con- 
nection whatever between the Ambidexterity of the 
Scythians and the valour and virtues which alike 
distinguished them. The testimony is therefore all the 
more trustworthy, 

Justin (the great Latin historian, second century) says ' 
of the Scythians that they "were a nation, which, though 
inured to labour, fierce in war and of prodigious strength, 
could nevertheless so control their passions, that they 
made no other use of their victories than to increase their 

" Theft among them was reckoned so great a crime, 
and was so severely punished, that they could let their 



numerous flocks wander from place to place without 
danger of losing them. . . . 

" What is still more wonderful, those virtues which 
the Greeks in vain endeavoured to attain by learning 
and philosophy were natural to them, and they reaped 
those advantages from their ignorance of vice, which 
the others could not derive from their knowledge of 
virtue. . . . 

" Scarcely is there any nation to be met with in history 
so famous for conquering wherever they carried their 
arms. . . . Upon the whole, such were their strength and 
courage, wherever they entered into an offensive or 
defensive war, that, as Thucydides himself tells us, no 
nation, either in Europe or Asia, could equal them for 
strength, valour, or conduct ; nor could anything resist 
their power, when they were unanimous among them- 
selves. Such care they took to cultivate this martial 
genius, that even their own women were inured to it 
betimes, insomuch that no woman would be admitted 
into matrimony till she had killed at least one enemy 
with her own hands. . . . 

" They were remarkable for their fidelity and friend- 
ships, which they esteemed and gloried in above all 
things ; . . . and when such a friendship was once con- 
tracted, there was no danger or death which they would 
not expose themselves to for one another. . . . 

" We are told that very few of them died in sickness, 
but that in general they lived to a good old age. Their 
women are affirmed to have been so well trained to 
riding and shooting that they did not fall short of the 
men in those exercises. 

" In their excursions they carried with them a certain 
composition, in small pieces like pills, one of which, upon 
occasion, would afford sufficient nourishment for several 
days. Pliny adds (a.d. 6o — 115) that they used the Hke 
expedient with their horses, by means of what he calls 
the Scythian Weed, upon the strength of which they 


could travel ten or twelve days without eating or 

Here we have a nation valorous, vigorous, and vir- 
tuous ; faithful friends and fearless warriors — men and 
women alike, and, more wonderful still, not altogether 
ignorant of compressed foods and drugs. We do not 
maintain that Ambidexterity was exclusively responsible 
for this marvellous efficiency, but that this people were 
Ambidextrous by law and practice is clear from the 
history, hence what is the reasonable conclusion ? It is 
surely more than a mere coincidence- 
Coming down to our own times, we have an equally 
conspicuous example of the coincident existence of extra- 
ordinary manual dexterity and phenomenal national 
activity and development. 

We turn our eyes again to the Far East, and in Japan 
is found a people who are Ambidextrous above all others. 
From time immemorial they have taught it in their art 
schools, or practised it in their lives, with the result that 
they are truly bimanous practically as well as anatomically. 

That the Japanese stand at the very head of civilized 
nations will be conceded readily by every one, but it is not 
equally widely known that they are the most Ambi- 
dextrous people upon earth. They have been tw'o- 
handed from the remotest antiquity, and it speaks 
eloquently for the cult that they have also been in the 
van of progress in science and art for many years past. 

They are indeed a wonderful race, and in the present 
war they have proved themselves as distinguished in 
military prowess as they have been for centuries for 
artistic pre-eminence. Sir Rutherford Alcock tells us 
that : — " It is not too much to say that no nation in 
ancient or modern times has been richer in art-motifs 
and original types than the Japanese. 

" When the London exhibition of 1862, therefore, made 
its display in the ' Japanese Court,' the rich treasures 
of art work came upon Europe as a new revelation in 




decorative and industrial arts, and have continued since 
to exercise a strong and abiding influence on all industrial 
art work. 

" Such is the delicacy of touch and skill in manipula- 
tion exhibited by Japanese workmen of all kinds, that, 
apart from the general principles applied in all decorative 
processes, the simplest piece of constructive workmanship 
is not easily rivalled, or in danger of being mistaken for 
the work of any other than Japanese hands. 

" Their ingenuity and taste in pottery excite the envy 
and admiration of Europe, and to this day many secrets 
of these crafts of pottery and porcelain are as jealously 
guarded as ever. 

" The beauty and excellence of Japanese lacquer ware 
have never been matched in Europe. Japan reigns 
supreme, now as at first, in this, the most beautiful and 
perfect product of all her skilled labour and artistic 
power. It will hardly be believed that some of these 
specimens fetch their ' weight in gold ' ! 

" In all manipulations of metals and amalgams the 
Japanese are great masters. They not only ' are in 
possession of secret processes unknown to workmen in 
Europe,' by which they produce effects beyond the reach 
of the latter, but show a mastery of their material which 
imparts a peculiar freedom and grace to their best 

In carving, decoration of wall-papers, and textile 
fabrics they have never been surpassed, whilst " their 
embroidery has never been excelled in beauty of design, 
assortment of colours, and perfection of needlework." 

Another distinguishing trait or feature in Ambidextral 
Japanese life and history is that " a very large proportion 
of the best writings of the best age of Japanese literature 
is the work of women ; and the names of numerous 
poetesses and authoresses are quoted with admiration 
even at the present time." 

Moreover, it is no less a fact that this nation has been 


famous for its knowledge of medicine for over a thousand 
years. They are well abreast of the times now as regards 
medical science, for the Press universal is loud in its 
praise of the efficiency of the hospital arrangements at 
the seat of war in Korea. But even in the eighth century 
a University had already been established in Japan that 
included such chairs as Ethics, Mathematics, History, 
and Medicine; and some of the text-books employed 
at that remote period dealt with such subjects as the 
diseases of women, materia medica, and veterinary 
surgery. Text-books treating of these branches of science 
were not known in Europe until centuries later. 

There is no wish to press this point of Japanese two- 
handedness too far, to misrepresent or exaggerate their 
Ambidextral powers, or to draw unfair deductions from 
history ; but facts cannot be ignored, and whether those 
facts be put down as coincidences or as true cause and 
effect must be left to the judgment of the reader. 

So far, then, as the Japanese are concerned, and leaving 
entirely aside their education and their reputed Ambidex- 
terity, we have here a nation pre-eminent in all artistic 
productions, in every possible kind of handicraft, in all 
manipulative workmanship, in short, in all hand-culture ; 
a people amongst whom each single individual is 
distinguished for manual skill, for delicacy of touch, and 
unrivalled execution. This on the one side ; and on the 
other a nation whose adoption of Western methods, ideas, 
and valuable processes has been little short of marvellous, 
and whose military prowess and position to-day compel 
us to recognize in her one of the most advanced and 
powerful of all civihzed peoples ! 

Such, then, are the modern developments of Ambidextral 
Culture, and if pre-eminence in science, art, military 
prowess, strategy, and sexual equality are the inseparable 
concomitants thereof, surely the sooner we adopt it the 
better for us all ! 

Finally, there is one feature of the controversy that I 



must specially emphasize, a feature that clenches the 
argument once for all and irrevocably, and that is the 
testimony of the only truly competent judges of the real 
value of Ambidextral skill, viz. those who have actually 
possessed that faculty and practised it in their lives 
for nearly all purposes. Their evidence is absolutely 
unanimous ! These Ambidexters declare that their two- 
handed skill is of the utmost service to them ; that in no 
single instance is it ever other than an advantage and a 
benefit to have two right hands ; that never does the 
sinistral dexterity interfere with or in any way militate 
against the dextral aptitude and perfection of development, 
nay more, as we have seen, it rather increases and 
intensifies it ; and that they are unable to imagine a case 
where Ambidexterity would not be far superior to 
Unidexterity in whatever work the hands might be 

Ambidexterity is represented by such names as 
Leonardo da Vinci, Holbein, Landseer, Queen Victoria, 
Baden-Powell, and Sir Daniel Wilson, the last of whom, 
after nearl)' eighty years of Ambidextral experience as a 
highly developed two-hander, sums up the discussion in 
the following forcible words : — 

" Experience shows that wherever the early and 
persistent cultivation of the full use of both hands has 
been carried out, the result is greater efficiency, with- 
out any counterbalancing defect. We are Bimanous 
in the best sense, and are meant to have the free, un- 
restrained use of both hands. . . . The experience of 
every thoroughly left-handed person shows the possibility 
of training both hands to a capacity for responding to 
the mind with promptness and skill." 

What, then, is the conclusion of the whole matter ? No 
competent authority has been found to deny that " much 
more could be made of the left side by careful cultivation." 
If this be the fact, then that screaming sentimentality 
which declares Ambidexterity to be a dangerous revolution. 


likely to bring in a reign of chaos and confusion through- 
out the domain of settled manners and customs, may be 
quietly ignored ; whilst the " audacious ignorance " which, 
in a perfect deluge of denunciation, informs us that 
" Ambidexters have set themselves to counteract a natural 
tendency," that "they must reconstitute the whole order 
of things," and that we are made so lopsided by nature 
and by physiological conformation that it is impossible 
for " a man who tries to put on and button up a woman's 
waterproof, or a woman who attempts to don and fasten 
a man's overcoat " to do it with any amount of ability or 
readiness, may be dismissed with a smile of supreme 

It has been more or less clearly shown that the 
advantages of Ambidexterity are many and great, 
mentally, morally, and physically — equally to the indi- 
vidual and to the nation ; that the effective strength 
of a person and of a people is increased from 30 to 
50 per cent. ; and that this Educational Reformation, 
which is here and now proposed to be carried into effect, 
can be accepted, adopted, and accomplished throughout 
the British Empire without the expenditure of either 
money or men, and in the short space of a few months at 
the farthest. 

Is it not incumbent upon us as a civilized and en- 
lightened people to extend these advantages to our 
children in the most expeditious and efficient manner 
possible, and thus secure to the generations following a 
heritage of superior vigour, valour, and virtue that shall 
raise them many degrees higher in prestige and power 
than they would otherwise be ? 

The most sanguine advocate of Ambidexterity does not 
expect that a universal two-handedness would make this 
earth a heaven, or its inhabitants angels; but that it 
would make the earth less unlike heaven, and its people 
fitter associates for the angels, there is abundant evidence 
to show. 



That every proposed innovation, however desirable and 
excellent, will meet with some degree of opposition, of 
whatever kind it may be, goes without saying ; hence it 
is not surprising to find that there have been certain 
objections raised, and urged with divers degrees of 
emphasis, against the scheme of Ambidextral Culture 
advocated in these pages, and inculcated by the newly 
formed Society elsewhere referred to. 

It can truly be said that all the objections hitherto 
advanced have been either speculative or illogical on the 
one hand, or else frivolous and vexatious on the other. 
Candidly speaking, we have not encountered one single 
serious, sensible, or even plausible objection to two- 
handedness in the whole range of the controversy. 

If it were not that some of these protests come from 
those who are supposed to have considerable acquaintance 
with the subjects of medicine and education, and who 
therefore might be expected to be reliable authorities on 
the question at issue, they could be dismissed without 
comment, so utterly devoid are they of any foundation in 
logic, in practice, or in fact. 

For instance, a well-known inspector remarked the 
other day, " I don't believe in teaching a child to use 
both hands simultaneously. Much better teach the right 
hand first, and then, if there is time, educate the left 
also." Surely no one who had given the least thought to 
the question could have made such a random statement 1 


On general lines and principles we might just as wisely 
propose to teach one eye to see first, one ear to hear 
first, one hand to play the piano first, and one foot to 
walk first, before we teach the other eye, the other ear, 
the other hand, or the other foot. Besides, the phrase 
"if there is time" is most unfortunate in two senses, 
neither of which was appreciated or, and much less, 
intended, by the speaker : First, it betrays an indifference 
to, or ignorance of, the whole question of Ambidextral 
instruction ; and second, it declares his belief that the 
Bimanual training will take up more time than the one- 
handed course at present requires. A writer in " All the 
Year Round " falls into exactly the same error when he 
says : — " To teach a child to do all these things with both 
hands would take nearly, if not quite, twice as long as 
with one hand only." 

Why will speakers and writers commit themselves to 
such rash and hasty opinions ? This " time " objection 
has been disproved in the every-day experience and practice 
of numerous teachers over and over again. Indeed it has 
been established as an invariable fact, that two-handed 
development is much more rapid in its progress than 
one-handed education has ever been. Hence as a 
typical case, the two hands in pianoforte-playing receive 
exactly the same amount of attention, simultaneously 
from the very first exercise and lessons. In any case, our 
objectors go contrary to common usage, which is, to 
have first a general education, and then specialize and 
differentiate according to powers, talents and tendencies. 
Here, however, the specializing is rendered a superfluity 
because with Ambidextral education both hands will be 
so perfectly developed in sensitiveness and expertness 
that no further advance will be possible. Some writers 
who have very pronounced views on the inestimable 
advantages of possessing- a crippled or sinistral 
hand! do not hesitate to advance the most 



STATEMENTS ill support of their contentions. For 
example, one of them says that — " the buttons of our 
dress, and the hooks and eyes of all female attire, are 
expressly adapted to the right hand " ! ! This is incorrect, 
for is there a man amongst us who cannot, and who 
DOES NOT, button his dress with either hand and with 
both hands continually ? And similarly with women, who 
are still more deft in buttoning and hooking their manifold 
attire ! But even granting the assumption to be true, 
it is an incontrovertible fact that in countless cases 


SKILFULLY WITH THE LEFT HAND, and never does it 
show less aptitude for the work than does the right hand 
itself. These critics might as well tell us that violins are 
made to be fingered specially and exclusively by the left 
hand, because the right hand would be unable to execute 
the difficult manipulation, — and we should be quite as 
ready to believe them ! As Sir Daniel Wilson observes : — 
" Habit so entirely accustoms the left-handed man to the 
requisite action, that he would be no less put out b}' the 
sudden reversal of the door-handle, knife-blade, or screw, 
or the transposition of the buttons of his dress, than the 
right-handed man." 

Mr. James Shaw, writing in " Knowledge," objects to 
Ambidexterity on the following grounds, and he also 
denies its advantages : — " It is argued by some writers 
that it would be a great advantage were we Ambidextrous, 
using both hands with like skill. Now no one doubts that 
the specialization of hands for the purpose of grasping, 
and feet for locomotion, is of more advantage to man than 
if he had four hands fitted for both functions. As the 
child grows older the difference of both hands appears, 
and this difference in civilized countries is eagerly helped 
by precept and example. 

"As in playing whist it is better " that partner should 
have many trump cards, and self few, than that each 
should have an average number, So it is found that in a 


world where time is so valuable, where art is long and life 
is short, it is better one hand should be very well educated, 
and the other comparatively neglected, than that each 
should have a moderate aptitude. Gimlets, screws, 
scissors, scythes, &c., are all made for the right hand. 
He who would educate us to the Ambidexter must have 
two handles to every door, two methods of winding up 
every watch, Janus-shaped benches, gauges, and duplicate 
sets of screw-nails, scissors and scythes." 

Mr. Shaw, curiously enough, goes on to say : — " Not 
only is the right hand the most dextrous, there is also a 
difference in the strength of vision in the right and left 
eye. In many cases this difference is so great as to neces- 
sitate the sufferer" (or "lopsided person," as Mr. Shaw 
facetiously calls him) " having the lenses of his glasses 
specially suited to each eye. The advantage of such an 
arrangement is obvious ; indeed the relief in reading given 
to such an individual, when he has got a lens suited to 
either eye, is so great that when once discovered it 
IS never forgotten " ! ! 

Carefully examining this mixed medley of gratuitous 
assumptions, false premises, and almost foolish conclusions, 
one is struck with amazement that a writer who exhibits 
in other parts of his paper undoubted abilit}'^, should 
commit himself to such a jumble of absurdities, and 
evidently in serious argument. 

His first position is untenable to begin with ; for surely 
no one could or would object to have not only one 
extra faculty, but several, if he had the opportunity of 
acquiring them. What could any individual lose by 
gaining an additional power or endowment, be it mental 
or physical, except indeed a certain amount of disability 
and gaucherie ? Supposing, for example, that our eyes and 
ears were, all four of them, equally capable of both hearing 
and sight, where would the inferiority or the disability 
come in ? And taking his own case. How, we ask, could 
the possession of four limbs, say hands, all equally 




MOVEMENTS, be Considered a disadvantage ? For the 
contention is not, that therefore our hands would be less 
dextrous, sensitive, responsive, or useful than they are 
under present conditions, but that our two feet would be 
made so much more useful than they now are ! In Mr. 
Shaw's own words, we confidently assert that " no one 
DOUBTS " that the more faculties, endowments and powers 
our limbs can exercise, the better and the more advantage- 
•ous it must be for the fortunate owners. Even in the case 
where some or several of these powers may lie dormant, it 
cannot be detrimental in the least degree to have them so. 
But to be precise in our criticism : — 

1. Mr. Shaw begs the question when he assumes that 
there is to be any " moderate aptitude " in the matter 
at all. Ambidexterity does not mean two left hands 
— no one, save possibly himself, has ever contemplated 
making people ambisinistrous ! ! — it means two right 
liands. There is no intention of reversing the present 
order of things and educating the left hand whilst neg- 
lecting the right ; our purpose is the rather to educate 
the left hand to an equality with the right, and the sup- 
position that with bimanual instruction both hands 
would only attain to a moderate aptitude is not only 
unfounded, but positively contrary to experience 
AND FACT. In no one case out of many thousands is it true 
that the two hands become less expert by simultaneous 
cultivation and development, than does one hand when 
trained and educated alone. Nay, the reverse is the 
case, for, as is seen elsewhere, teachers find that both 
hands simultaneously taught become more dextrous than 
either hand could ever become if subjected to separate 
and independent treatment. 

2. His inference that the one hand could never attain 
to its full individual development if hampered (!) with an 
equally dextrous fellow, instead of being united to an 
awkward, crippled, and comparatively helpless partner, 


is likewise chimerical, and opposed alike to both common 
sense, common custom, and common experience. Does 
the cultivation of the left hand in pianoforte-playing 
interfere in the slightest degree with the most perfect 
development of the right hand ? Has it ever been known 
that the right hand has suffered by any training that the 
left hand has received, in even one occupation or exercise ? 
If so, there is no record of the fact ; but the contrary is 
well known to be the universal result. 

3. The idea that " every door must have two handles " 
is so purely fanciful and gratuitous as hardly to be 
considered as intended. For in the existing state of 
things, are not doors opened just as freely and almost as 
frequently with the left hand as with the right? And 
where does the dextral advantage of our present door- 
handles come in ? We have yet to learn that they have 
been, are, or ever will be, made for one hand, and that 
hand the right ! And if the door with one round handle 
{or square or flat handle for the matter of that) is sufficient 
to meet the needs of a one-handed person, it is obviously 
absurd to imagine that a two-handed expert would require 
still more accommodation. The natural inference is that 
he would require, if anything, a good deal less. Similarly 
with watches, &c. 

4. Again, the argument that duplicate sets of tools 
gimlets, scissors, scythes and so on — would be necessar}^ 
proves nothing against, but only in favour of, the adoption 
of Ambidexterity. For, take the scythe as an illustration. 
What a boon to mowers it would be if after half a 
morning's work with the one tool and side, they could 
change to a second scythe and thus exercise the other 
side of their bodies. Even were this advantage discounted 
to its lowest value, it could not be other than an important 
one. Let it nevertheless be remarked here, that of all the 
innumerable tools at present in use amongst artizans and 
mechanics, a very trifling proportion of them would need 
duplication or alteration for sinistral use ; e.g. neither 



the hammer, saw, plane, axe, drill, chisel, mallet, pincers, 
gauge, brace, screwdriver, file, nor even the gimlet of 
necessity, would require any duplication ; and these are 
nearly the whole equipment of the carpenter's tool-bag. 

Moreover, it is not a necessary result, nor is it indeed a 
probable effect of Ambidexterity, that any single one of 
the ordinary customs, habits, or observances of life should 
be reversed or interfered with. All of them, however, 
would certainly be advantaged by the supplemental and 
alternative aid afforded by the acquisition of an extra 
assistant or workman, efficient, skilled and competent to 
perform every office and fimction in the event of accident 
to, or disability of, the dexter hand. 

As an illustration, is it not a fact that a left-handed 
carpenter is — from his inevitable two-handed aptitude — 
not merely as dextrous as his right-handed brother, and 
can use the plane, the saw, the chisel, the hammer, and 
all other tools, quite as easily and as cleverly ; but that in 
many a peculiar situation his partial Ambidexterity comes 
in with an amazing convenience and profit ? Let any one 
watch, as the writer has done frequently, the left and 
right handed carpenter, and all ideas of inferiority hitherto 
associated with two-handedness will for ever disappear. 

Another class of objections relates to the mental or 
psychological effects ; and some medical men have ex- 
pressed themselves as fearing that "the extra labour 
thus imposed upon the brain will endanger the intellectual 
and mental standard of the individual." Surely this is a 
false conclusion ; or if the conclusion be right, then the 
premises must be wrong. Ambidextral instruction does 
not entail extra work upon the brain, but rather distributes 
the work to be done over a double area of brain matter. 
Instead, therefore, of one side or hemisphere of the brain 
having all the work to do, and the other lobe or hemi- 
sphere becoming atrophied through disuse, both sides are 
alternately or simultaneously and symmetrically engaged, 
exercised, and developed in the educative stages, and 


ultimately, in adult life, each half takes its own proper 
share of the daily task ; and thus each lobe is propor- 
tionately benefited by this natural, this wise and happy 
division of labour. Here, once more, the objections to 
Ambidexterity are unmistakably converted into a vital 
and powerful argument for the introduction and com- 
pulsory adoption of two-handedness, to supersede the 
present lopsided one-handed instruction. 

The suggestion raised in a previous page, that the 
education of the pupil will thus be unduly extended (or 
at the least materially lengthened) is based on the 
assumption that to train both hands simultaneously for 
all occupations is a more difficult and tedious under- 
taking than to train one only, and that the dextral 
member. Professor Tadd, after an experience of twelve 
years of Ambidextral teaching, claims, as we have already 
seen, better and more work in the same space of time 
from both hands taught and engaged simultaneously, 
and educated equally, than when one hand is trained and 
cultivated separately. So that the period of school life — 
for the same standard of efficiency — will be, and is, 
materially lessened, instead of, as imagined by our 
objectors, hieing at all extended. 

Those persons who entertain the opinion that right- 
handedness is ordained by the Creator, and that to incul- 
cate the teaching of Ambidexterity is to " fly in the face 
of Providence," and turn the laws of Nature upside down, 
may be permitted to indulge their far-fetched and harm- 
less theory in peace and quiet. They are not numerous 
as a body, and the Bible, which may be supposed to 
constitute their sole authority, does not afford one solitary 
fact, command, or exhortation in support of such an 
obvious misapprehension. We might, however, again 
remind those objectors that in the Old Testament, men- 
tion is made of a very fine body of left-handed soldiers, 
700 in number, who formed a very important factor in the 
army of the nation, and whose dexterity was so excep- 



tional that it is stated they could " sHng a stone to a 
hair's breadth," thus outvying in skill any of the right- 
handed warriors of the time. Moreover, there is no 
record of these men being condemned as sinners exceed- 
ingly above their fellows, nor of their incurring the 
Divine displeasure because of their most unusual, but 
sinistral, prowess. 

Some people are afraid that the introduction of Ambi- 
dexterity and two-handedness will involve the whole fabric 
of society in one hopeless chaos of confusion. The left 
hand will be continually usurping the functions of the 
right, and in critical moments the indecision as to which 
hand shall be used will probably often result in fatal 
consequences to the victims of this bimanual craze ! ! 
Alas ! for the authors of this objection, for on examina- 
tion it proves to be a strong argument in favour of the 
proposed innovation ; because, if we appeal in the first 
place to common sense, does it not stand to reason that 
in any emergency and in every critical moment where 
skilled manipulation is demanded, the advantage must 
rest with those who are provided with two dextrous 
hands, rather than with those who only possess one, the 
other being, to all intents and purposes, a. burden, a 
hindrance, or, at the best, an unreliable help ? Take an 
analogous case in football. Is not the Association player's 
efficiency measured by his expertness with both feet ? 
How often would he utterly fail in dribbling, passing, and 
shooting at goal, were his , left foot not as quick and as 
clever as his right ? But there is another and even better 
answer to this objection, viz. the already admitted fact 
that with the great majority, the very large majority, of 
human beings, one hand will always be slightly superior, so 
that the Ambidexter will never be at a loss which member 
to use at critical moments ; or, where either hand could 
be used with identical advantage, the preferential use of 
one hand will invariably save him from indecision and, 
hence, from danger. Again, where there exists perfect 


Ambidexterity, or even practical Bimanual skill, there 
will be as much and as perfect an instinctive use of the 
preferential hand, i.e. the most appropriate hand — in 
every emergency, as there is a natural impulse, under 
normal one-handed conditions, to use the right or dexter 
hand on all such occasions, whether we can do so with 


The very realization of the fact that one has two fully- 
qualified and equally efficient members, each similarly 
capable of performing every required duty, and of 
responding to every demand that may be made upon 
them, is sufficient to inspire the happy possessor of such 
an accomplishment with a confidence otherwise wholly 
unattainable, whilst it surely invests him with a reserve of 
power of the highest possible value in every condition in 
life. Moreover, reasoning by analogy, it is never found 
that, in the animal world, the possession of two equally 
strong and effective wings, of two feet, or — as with 
monkeys — two hands equally and identically endowed 
with natural powers, causes any uncertainty, confusion, 
inconvenience, or awkwardness. How often indeed have 
we all admired the wondrous agility of the quadrumana, 
as we observed their springing and swinging from branch 
to branch in their marvellous gambols and aerial flights ! 

The tiger or cat will catch its prey with either paw, 
and will climb equally cleverly with both ; the squirrel 
likewise shows no preference for, or superiority in either 
foot, — and so on through the whole range of the various 
orders ; and we may therefore warrantably conclude that 
a bimanous race of human beings will be just as superior 
to a one-handed people as the present bimanous and 
perfectly Ambidextrous monkeys are, or would be, to a 
one-handed species of ape — for example— did such a 
species exist. Where indeed would such a lopsided 
species come in, and how could they survive in the 
struggle for existence ? If a law of the " survival of the 
fittest " actually obtains, such an obviously inferior tribe 


of monkeys would speedily vanish. The danj^er now 
being discussed, therefore, is a purely imaginary one ; the 
idea that the left hand would ever usurp or interfere with 
the functions of the right hand being as groundless as it is 
unnatural and impossible. 

With reference to existing established customs and 
usages of society, such as shaking hands, carving, there 
need be no anxiety. Ambidexterity is not meant, and will 
do nothing, to disturb those manners and observances any 
more than the knowledge of other languages disturbs or 
interferes with the use of the mother tongue. Unfortu- 
nately for the critics under review, they seem far more 
concerned to discover bogus, and utterly contemptible, 
faults than they are to recognize — much less to acknow- 
ledge — undoubted merits ; hence the accumulation of what 
we are compelled to regard as frivolous and vexatious ob- 
jections which do not militate in the slightest degree 
against the great and grand principles of the proposed 
innovation in our national education which are set forth 
in the pages of this Manual. 

A distinguished medical professor writes as follows : — 
" Believing, as I do, that the left brain and the right hand 
are designed by nature to be dominant, I cannot approve 
of Ambidextral culture. We recognize that it is only in 
left-brained and right-handed people that the highest 
developments are possible . . . this undeniable fact. 
If your intention is simply to advance such a degree of 
left-handed education as will render the right brain and 
the left hand, so to speak, understudies for their corre- 
sponding parts, I shall wish you every success in your 

Here are three statements ; the first and third are 
strangely incongruous, and still perfectly harmonious. An 
" Understudy," it must be remembered, is not necessarily 
an " Inferior," but simply " An Actor " (the right brain, 
for example) " who studies a part allotted to another per- 
former " (the left lobe or brain in this instance), so as to 


be ready to undertake it in case of necessity ; " or as 
another definition gives it, " an actor who prepares a part 
so as to be able to take the place of the actor 
playing it, if necessary." Precisely, and this is exactly 
what simultaneous two-handed work and Ambidextral 
culture generally provide for ; that whilst the right hand 
and left brain shall, by custom and habit — and, if you will, 
by preference — be the playing actor, and the leading actor 
too — the left hand and the right brain shall so study the 
part, and shall be so educated to perform the part, that at 
any time, and at all times whenever necessary, either from 
inconvenience, fatigue, indisposition, or other cause in the 
dominant or principal actor, it shall be fully qualified to 
sustain the part devolving upon it, discharging all the 
functions, duties, and responsibilities with equal ability, 
accuracy, certainty, and satisfaction. Most unhesitatingly, 
then, we say to this objector, we accept your condition with- 
out qualification. Make the right brain and the left hand 
" Understudies" to their corresponding parts, and we are 
quite willing to leave the allocation of their respective 
obligations, and the share each pair shall take in the ordi- 
nary concerns of life in all its manifold avocations, to 
the dictates of common sense and the demands of the 

The second statement is one of the most serious we 
have yet encountered, and we cannot afford to let it pass 
without the most rigid and searching inquiry. The 
Doctor says it is an " Undeniable Fact " that " it is only 
in left-brained and right-handed people that the highest 
developments are possible." 

We should like to know what the Doctor means by " the 
Highest Developments." Does he mean that Solomon, 
that Samson, that Luther, that Newton, that Bacon, that 
Queen Elizabeth, that Morphy, that Paganini, that 
Paderewski, that Handel, Grace, and Roberts, and pre- 
eminently Leonardo da Vinci (a strange grouping of 
characters surely), were all pronouncedly right-handed 




individuals with predominant Right hands and Left brains, 
and that they could never, and would never, have reached 
such a pinnacle of superiority in Wisdom, Strength, 
Courage, Science, Philosophy, Knowledge, Diplomacy, 
Music, Chess, Technique, Cricket, Billiards, unless they 
had possessed this one great qualifying attribute of right- 
handedness ? Or does he mean, still more universally, 
that the individual is never capable of a " Highest 
Development " unless nature has endowed him with a 
dominant left brain and therefore a similarly dominant 
right hand ; in which case the unfortunate left-handed and 
right-brained individual is left out in the cold, and the 80 
per cent, of normal-type persons can never hope to rise to 
any great eminence, but must rest content with an 
inglorious mediocrity to the end of their days ? 

Again, does the Doctor mean by " Highest Develop- 
ment," brain growth or culture only, or does the phrase 
apply to every department of a man's being and person- 
ality ; to the muscular strength of the modern athlete, to 
the wonderful automatic agility of the pianist, to the amaz- 
ing shooting accuracy of the king's prize winner, to the 
incredibly delicate and unerring certainty of the champion 
billiard-player, as well as to the mental developments of a 
senior wrangler ? 

As already remarked, this dictum is a very serious one 
to make unless there is irrefragable evidence in the form of 
incontrovertible facts to support it. We know that it has 
recently been said in an unofficial paper that "Scientists 
further conclude that right-handedness is natural, and its 
superiority over the left hand increases with growth. The 
brightest pupils are, so to speak, more right-handed than 
the others. It is a general opinion that criminals have 
not only more left-handed people among them, but 
they are also more expert with both hands than people in 

In reply to the first statement that right-handedness is 
natural. Chapter III. has given facts which finally and fully 


prove the contrary; that "its superiority over the left 
hand increases with growth " has been shown to be inevi- 
table only when education represses the left hand and 
cultivates the right. As to the " brightest pupils " being 
the most strongly right-handed, we have no statistics to 
support such a statement ; and that " criminals are more 
expert with both hands than people in general " is not 
only contradicted by good authorities, but, even if true, 
only proves that they see the advantage of two dextrous 
hands and avail themselves of it ; their more respectable 
and virtuous fellows being too much blinded and biassed 
by tradition and custom to perceive or to admit it. For 
it is not the Ambidexterity that makes the criminal, for, 
if so, it makes a Baden-Powell, a Paderewski, and a 
Cinquevalli ; a Landseer or a Morse. Two-handedness 
has no such absolute power over a man's conscience or 
his moral sensibilities. It will, however, render the man, 
be he vicious or virtuous, a greater potency for evil or 
good in the world ; but it is just as foolish and just as 
groundless to say that hand-culture is immoral in its 
tendencies as it is to say that brain-culture is vicious 
in its influences. Indeed the monstrous absurdity of the 
whole assumption is too appalling, viz. that the cleverer 
you make a man, the more criminal you make him. And 
if insane people and criminals (who are generally of the 
uneducated classes) have a great percentage of partial 
Ambidexters in their ranks, it only emphatically proves 
that where man or nature is left alone, or not subject to 
the repressive force of custom, education, and tradition, 
the natural and instinctive advantage of a perfect 
two-handedness reasserts itself with much greater fre- 
quency, fulness, and freedom, than obtains amongst his 
more civilized confreres. 

Looking at all these statements generally, it may be 
rejoined that it is very easy and very safe to institute such 
contrasts and comparisons, for the simple reason that it 
is practically an impossibility that Solomon, Samson, 



Newton, Bacon, Luther, Paganini, Morphy — kings in their 
respective realms — and such like should have been any- 
thing else but right-handed, when the sternest discipline, 
the most inexorable tradition, the most rigid custom and 
the most systematic education, combined from the earliest 
period even until now, to cultivate their right hands and 
to cripple their left ! Nevertheless, we have just as easy, 
just as safe, and an equally potent reply, for we fear- 
lessly assert that but for this lopsided policy, but for this 
disciplinary and drastic crippling of the left hand, all 
those great worthies, whose names are household words, 
would have surpassed their recorded excellences to a 
wonderful extent, and that — if two-handedness dr^s 
elevate and improve and advantage the individual, as 
Chapter VI. clearly proves is the case — had those notables 
been privileged to receive an Ambidextrous education, 
they would have reached a pinnacle of greatness 30 to 40 
per cent, higher than what their defective one-sided train- 
ing attained. We can always fluently declaim against and 
denounce what we are ignorant of, and it has been the 
universal practice since Adam's time to do so. Man 
will not learn the lesson that 10,000 mistakes of his 
ancestors should have taught him, and reserve his judg- 
ment until he hears, sees, and understands both sides ; 
and a glance at the eleven or twelve conflicting theories 
regarding right-handedness that have been put forward 
in recent years (see Chapter III.) will abundantly con- 
firm this statement in so far as it relates to the present 

We are making most comprehensive investigations in 
both the Education, the Insane, and the Criminal Depart- 
ments, the results of which inquiries we hope to be able 
to supply before this Manual goes to press ; but as a 
CONCLUSIVE and inclusive reply to all and every 
objection that has been brought or ever will be brought 
against two-handedness, we declare, that if to the 
mountain-climber Ambidexterity is essential in the hand 


grip for the prevention of fatal accidents — and we are told 
that it is ; if to the cyclist two-handed dexterity is an 
indispensable acquisition — and who doubts it ? if to the 
pianist and organist it is the secret of ANY and all 
success — which it obviously is ; if to the cricketer it adds 
30 to 50 per cent, of efficiency in the field — what sports- 
man denies it ? if to the sabreur Ambidexterity affords 
the most undoubted advantage — which is everywhere 
acknowledged ; if to the surgeon bim.anual skill is vital to 
the success of many an operation — and the profession 
universally admits it is ; if in these and a hundred other 
professions, occupations and recreations, the possession of 
two equally dextrous hands is a boon, a blessing, an 
essential faculty, — Why, we demand with all boldness, 
Why should not the possession of two equally dextrous 
hands for every function, and in every individual, be 
even still more desirable and still more advantageous ? 
If in these related, and the hundred other, occupations 
referred to, the Ambidexters not only attain to what one 
may fairly conclude to be in general language the 
" Highest Developments," but also remain absolutely free 
from vicious contaminations, immoral tendencies, or 
criminal propensities, — what reason, fact, or evidence is 
there for supposing that a systematic course of bimanual 
culture will do other than raise the standard of physical 
excellence in the individual, and in the community 
through the individual ? 

Lastly, we have the fulmination of Dr. Gould,i who at 
great length and with equal vigour, tries to show that 
"All attempts at Ambidexterity" are injurious! His 
denunciation is couched in the most uncompromising 
language, and he clenches his argument by the citation 
of an illustrative case, out of " many instances in proof" 
which he says he could produce. 

He avers that Ambidexterity is not " desirable " ; that 

' "Popular Science Monthly," August, 1904. 



all attempts to " bring it about " have " bad results "; that 
they are " unwise " ; that they " result in suffering and 
disease," or in "life-long cruelty to the left-handed," or in 
" confusions and indecisions during the entire subsequent 
life," or in " life-long obstacles to progress," or in " dis- 
ease and life-failure " ; that such attempts are " most 
pathetic " ; and finally that " the best consequences are 
poor " ! We quote one extract in full to exhibit the 
Doctor's case fairly, but we take our accustomed liberty of 
emphasizing in heavier type one or two phrases therein 
for the reader's benefit. 

" I have never seen anything but bad results from the 


INSTEAD OF THE LEFT, whcii there is a decided 
tendency or habit to be left-handed. Moreover 
the attempt is never successful. The best con- 
sequences are poor, and are only awkward mixtures 
of the two forms, which yield confusions and indecisions 
during the entire subsequent life. I could cite many 
instances in proof, some of them most pathetic, in which 
disease and life-failure resulted." 

Then follows the illustrative case, detailing the dire 
effects of this awful Ambidextral effort : — A friend of his, 
who, when a boy — naturally left-handed — was compelled 
for years, " by arduous and continued training to write 
with his right hand and not with ' his left "' ! ! 

Can the learned Doctor be serious when he concludes 
his description of this pathetic and convincing case by 
saying, " The attempt at Ambidexterity has been a 
life-long obstacle in his professional progress " ? 

Here is a boy with a strongly developed sinistral bias, 
or naturally left-handed, and because his parents were so 
blind and foolish as to repress that bias, to try and destroy 
it, and to make him write with his right hand instead 
OF WITH HIS LEFT — that is, to keep him still ONE-handed 
— the Doctor throws all the blame on the faculty of 
two-handedness and on the Society that has been 


founded for the purpose of promulgating the principles 
of Ambidexterity or equal-handedness ! The scheme 
advocated in these pages and in the constitution of the 
Society aforesaid, is to raise the aptitude, to increase the 
expertness of the sinister hand — whichever that may be 
— to an equality with the dextral one, so that the two may 
be in all respects similarly proficient in all exercises ; and 
further to strongly deprecate every and any endeavour to 
suppress, or interfere with, any such natural one-handed 
bias or pre-eminence as Dr. Gould's friend undoubtedly 

Is it not clear that it was not an attempt at either 
dextral or ambidextral culture that injured the boy ? it 
was drastic interference with, and cruel suppression of, 
his unusual sinistral bias and powers. How can the 
attempt to force children to use one hand instead of the 
OTHER be twisted into an attempt at Ambidexterity ? 

And what, then, shall be said of this mournfully long 
list of indictments against two-handed training ? Are 
they not all frivolous and vexatious, and worse ? They 
do not deserve the most cursory notice. 

Take the case of an ordinary or of an extraordinary 
boy, say of five years of age, to represent the millions of 
such juveniles the world over. An attempt to make him 
Ambidextrous is first tried with the piano, and he acquires 
great dexterity, and Ambidexterity, on the keyboard ; 
does he suffer from disease thereby ? 

He is also taught the violin, and becomes most expert 
on that instrument, indeed his left hand has the superior 
task and proves quite equal to it ; has the boy started 
on his return journey to barbarism? 

He likewise takes up cricket, and grows equally clever 
with both hands in catching, throwing, and even in bowl- 
ing and batting; does he groan under a life-long 
cruelty ? 

Furthermore the youth now develops a remarkable 
power or fancy, and he practises both writing and 



drawing with both hands until he becomes absolutely as 
dextrous in those occupations with one hand as with the 
other, for he can scribble and sketch with equal " ex- 
pertness, accuracy, and rapidity" with both hands ; is he 
a pitiable victim" to "life-long confusions and 
indecisions," and to absolute life-failure? 

Dr. Gould stakes his reputation on an unqualified 
affirmative reply to these four questions ! 

Let us follow this youth in his future career, who has 
made so very many attempts to be Ambidextrous, for 
in the present case it must be allowed that they are bond- 
fide efforts to become truly two-handed. And what is 
the ultimate result ? He leaves school, this emaciated 
victim ; he manages to crawl through the University, or 
Sandhurst, or the studio, and to survive many years of 
arduous toil as an Ambidexter in those centres of instruc- 
tion and art. He enters the arena of life's contest, and 
we recognize a Leonardo da Vinci, Holbein, Landseer, 
Sir Daniel Wilson, Professor Morse, and a Baden-Powell ; 
or we see a Paganini, a Paderewski and a Chopin, and so 
on, ad infinitum !! Are these " Life-failures " ? 

The world is full of notables who are three parts 
Ambidextrous : indeed, may we not say the more 
Ambidextrous they are the more celebrated, the more 
ambitious, and the more successful they are ? It is in 
trade and commerce just the same ; the more Ambidextrous 
the workman is, the more efficient and valuable he is, no 
matter what the vocation may be. 

Dr. Gould forgets that there are genuine, earnest 
attempts at Ambidexterity being made every day and 
every hour by millions of tender scholars, and by tens of 
thousands of plodding, persevering students in the fields 
of music, art, science, surgery, crafts, sports, and games ; 
but where do we find in one of those departments of 
work the pitiable creatures writhing under all those 
terrible afflictions so graphically described by him ? 

To the best of our knowledge we have examined every 


objection that has been brought against the Ambidextral 
Cult, and until these opponents discover something more 
tangible to offer than such baseless conjectures and 
gratuitous assumptions it is our plain duty to employ our 
time and talents in perfecting ourselves in the use of the 
limbs and organs with which we have been endowed. 



An inevitable and natural outcome of Ambidextral culture 
is simultaneous two-handed work. The instinctive im- 
pulse of a skilled Ambidexter is to attempt the performance 
of two things at a time ; and even with one-handed 
individuals (by this term we mean, of course, persons 
having two hands, but only one of them trained to the 
highest degree of skill) there is frequently, if not indeed 
very widely, a strong inclination to exercise both hands 
concurrently in totally different and unrelated duties, 
which demand equally distinct and dissimilar move- 

The development to which we refer has taken the form 
of dual concurrent penmanship and drawing at school, 
not only in copy-books of different copies and models, but 
of totally independent and original matter, such as the 
writing of two letters to two individuals at the same time, 
drawing with one hand and writing with the other ; writ- 
ing with either hand and working arithmetical questions 
with the other, and all simultaneously. 

Now this novel phenomenon has not only taken every 
one by surprise, it has done more ; it has roused in the 
minds of some very few critics a fear that evil results will 
follow, and they have expressed not a little alarm at, and 
advanced protests of by no means a feeble nature against, 
such a dangerous (!) and, as they consider it, useless 
innovation. We hasten to assure these objectors that 
there is not the slightest cause for the least apprehension, 


as we hope to show in the following argument ; but it is 
not the less surprising that, with such startling and con- 
vincing evidence all round them, they should have thought 
it necessary to utter one word of warning where the 
amount of danger to be guarded against is obviously below 
zero ! 

It may be advisable to briefly define the actual position 
and to clear away every vestige of uncertainty as to 
what is herein advocated regarding the whole question of 
simultaneous two-handed culture and work. 

We contend that it is our bounden duty as parents, 
governors, and teachers to insist that our children are 
systematically taught from infancy to be truly two-handed ; 
that this system of Ambidextral culture shall include daily 
instruction in simultaneous exercises of an easy, but of a 
graduated and increasingly difficult nature ; that no pre- 
ference shall be shown to either hand in the respective 
occupations, movements and functions prescribed, but 
that both shall receive similar care ; that the grand object 
of this scheme of bimanual training is to render each hand 
absolutely independent of its fellow in all manual actions, 
but also equally capable of uniting harmoniously and per- 
fectly in concerted and the same work ; and, finally, that 
children thus symmetrically developed, with two equally 
skilful hands and two equally organized brains, will cer- 
tainly be superior to their unidextrous fellows in every 

The propositions that we will proceed to establish with 
reference to this question are as follow : — First, That it 
is possible to do two things well at the same time, and 
that every ordinarily intelligent child is capable of becom- 
ing as expert in the performance of two concurrent and 
unrelated acts as he can be in the separate accom- 
pHshment of one. Second, that the acts which we thus 
designate as concurrent or simultaneous are, so far as our 
unaided senses can determine, absolutely so, whatever the 
refinement of scientific analysis may ultimately declare 



the volitions or impulses that control them to be. For all 
practical purposes they, i.e. the acts, occur precisely at 
the same instant, though they may theoretically be nothing 
more than the outcome of Inconceivably rapid Al- 
ternations OF Volition ! And Third, that a certain 
amount of simultaneous work, under specified conditions, 
is healthy and expedient, and that under other conditions 
such concurrent exercise is necessary and harmless. The 
Fourth proposition — that whilst we hold it to be both 
proper and advantageous to prepare and qualify children 
for the execution of simultaneous two-handed work, and 
more specially of two-handed writing, during their school 
life, it would be unwise and indeed pernicious to en- 
courage or prescribe for our artizans and others the least 
amount of coincident manual labour over and above 
what has hitherto been found requisite for the effective 
performance of their duties in the several industries of 
manufacturing life — will require no proof. 

First, then, to prove the possibility of strictly contem- 
poraneous work, and that every one can learn to do two 
things well at the same time. 

Our declaration has been challenged in the columns of 
an educational paper in the following words : — "We are 
certain that Mr. Jackson is wrong in asserting that any one 
can do it. Eminent men who have made a life study of 
mental phenomena hold that it is impossible to focus the 
attention on two ideas at the same instant, and that when 
two fully conscious processes are proceeding concurrently 
• — so-called simultaneously — there is really a shifting of 
the attention backwards and forwards, so to speak, from 
one idea or current of ideas to the other. This doctrine 
is based upon careful experiments. The playing of an 
accompaniment to a song sung by the pianist is an 
example of a constant shifting of the attention, and it is 
only possible at sight to an expert, much of whose play- 
ing is almost subconscious ; whereas the simultaneously 
writing of two letters involves two simultaneous streams 


of original fully conscious thought, in addition to the 
absolutely different but simultaneous series of muscular 
movements involved." 

Without replying in detail to this objection, we may 
remark that the critic surrenders the whole position when 
he admits that " two fully conscious processes are pro- 
ceeding Concurrently." Exactly, that is the whole of 
our contention, and in support thereof the famous 
authority. Dr. Wigan, may be quoted, as also Dr. 
Brown-Sequard, whose pronouncements, so emphatic 
and conclusive, have been given at such length in these 

As illustrative of those pronouncements we will give an 
extract from the life of Sir Edwin Landseer, as found in 
the little book by Mr. Fred. G. Stephens : — 

" Landseer indeed attained to such amazing mastery 
that he painted 'Spaniel and Rabbit Mn two and a half 
hours ; and ' Rabbits,' which was at the British Institution, 
in three-quarters of an hour ; and the fine dog-picture, 
' Odin ' (1836) was the work of one sitting, i.e. painted 
within twelve hours. 

" But by far the most amazing instance of the technical 
powers of our subject is that which is in itself, without 
regard to Landseer, a subject of extraordinary interest to 
physiologists and inquirers into the nature of the action 
of the brain and the distribution of nerve power. Our 
informant is Mr. Solomon Hart, a Royal Academician, 
remarkable for his accomplishments and acute observation. 
A large party was assembled one evening at the house of 
a gentleman in the upper ranks of London ' society,' 
crowds of ladies and gentlemen of distinction were present, 
including Landseer, who was, as usual, the lion ; a large 
group gathered about the sofa where he was lounging ; the 
subject turned on dexterity and facility in feats of skill 
with the hand. No doubt the talk was ingeniously led in 
this direction by some who knew that Sir Edwin could 
do wonders of dextrous draughtsmanship, and were not 



unwilling to see him draw, but they did not expect what 
followed. A lad}^ lolling back on a settee, and rather tired 
of the subject, as ladies are apt to become when conver- 
sation does not appeal to their feelings or their interests, 
exclaimed, after many instances of manual dexterity had 
been cited, * Well, there's one thing nobody has ever done, 
and that is to draw two things at once.' She had 
signalled herself by quashing a subject of conversation, 
and was about to return to her most becoming attitude, 
when Landseer said, ' Oh, I can do that ; lend me 
two pencils, and I will show you.' The pencils were got, 
a piece of paper was laid on the table, and Sir Edwin, a 
pencil in each hand, drew simultaneously, and without 
hesitation, with the one hand the profile of a stag's 
head and all its antlers complete, and, with the other hand, 
the perfect profile of a horse's head. Both drawings were 
full of energy and spirit, and although, as the occasion 
compelled, not finished, they were, together and indivi- 
dually, quite as good as the master was accustomed to 
produce with his right hand alone ; the drawing by the 
left hand was not inferior to that by the right. 

" This showed that the artist's brain was acting in two 
directions at once, controlling two distinct limbs in similar 
but diverse operations ; for it was observed by our in- 
formant that the acts of draughtsmanship were strictly 
simultaneous and not alternate. Had the latter been the 
case, the feat would have been of deft draughtsmanship, 
about which no one would have questioned the ability of 
Landseer. This feat far surpasses that of chess-players, 
who continue six games at chess at one sitting, without 
seeing the board. Feats like that of the chess-players, 
however wonderful, differ in kind from the unparalleled one 
we have described. These are efforts of astoundingly 
powerful memories and acts of the cleverest mental vision, 
combined with that faculty with which chess-players seem 
to be specially endowed, possession of which, however, by 
no means proves superior mental ability. Landseer's feat 


was another sort, and proved him capable of doing two 
things at once, things which singly were, no doubt, easy 
of accomplishment by an artist of his faculties, but when 
simultaneously performed in duplicate were such as have 
not hitherto been recorded. Mrs. Mackenzie has enabled 
us to confirm this account of her brother's feats of 

But there is corroborative evidence of the truth of 
our statement all around us in our daily and familiar 

It is a well-known fact, for example, that many of our 
bank clerks can be seen casting up long rows of figures 
with unfailing accuracy, whilst not merely conversing 
with one another, but often telling an amusing tale, as 
Dr. Wigan has observed. 

Moreover, when we come to purely manual operations, 
as in ordinary trades, the weaver when pattern-weaving 
at the hand-loom, may be cited as one who undoubtedly 
has a very complicated combination of concurrent move- 
ments and volitions to execute. Yet, strange to say, we 
often find that whilst 

(a) incessantly watching the thread on the bobbin, 

(d) carefully scanning the warp as its sections are being 

alternated by the treadles, 

(c) throwing the shuttle with the right hand with just 
sufficient force to reach the opposite side, and at 
the same time to avoid breaking the weft, 

(ci) moving the batten with his left hand backwards 
and forwards with every cast of the shuttle, and 
so precisely as to neither damage by excess nor 
injure by deficiency, and 

(e) pedalling with both feet independently and irregu- 

larly, yet also intelligently, in order to produce 
the pattern required, 


ONLOOKER, or with a fellow-workman on the loom by 
his side ! ! Who, indeed, can witness his performance 



without being impressed with the wonderfully intricate 
character of his work ? 

The violinist furnishes another example of the two 
hands doing two different kinds of mechanical labour, 
demanding a very high standard of intelligence, at the 
same time, and where the left hand has a more severe 
and difficult part to perform than the right hand has. 

Once more, an organist will read and interpret an 
entirely new service he has never seen before, say, at a 
choir practice, and whilst fully alive to the mistakes of 
the singers — 

(a) he will read three lines or staves of music ; 

(d) he will note the words and give expression thereto 
in his rendering ; 

(c) he will determine and manage the combinations 

and stops required for his purpose ; 

(d) he will observe and exhibit all the expression marks 

in the music ; 

(e) he will manipulate the four manuals of his organ 

with his two hands separately or otherwise ; 
(/) he will translate the third stave with his two feet 
on the pedals, in similar and contrary motion, 
quite independently ; and 
(g) he will, throughout the complicated performance, 
pay proper regard to the duration of each note 
in the service, and so fully appreciate the object 
of the composer as to successfully reproduce, not 
only the letter, but the spirit of the inspiration. 
Are not these three or four types of workers engaged 
in the actual exercise of at least " two fully conscious 
processes proceeding concurrently, that is to say, simul- 
taneously," in the same individual ? We think every one 
must admit the fact. 

The second proposition is, that the acts which we 
designate as simultaneous are truly and actually so, and 
that any explanation that science may offer, or indeed 
demonstrate, as to the " inconceivably rapid alternation " 

A girl's first attempt at Simultaneous Unrelated Two-handed Designing 

on the Blackboard. 

Fig. 7. 

Page 177 


theory (of the volitions which direct and control them) 
is not only quite inappreciable and undiscoverable by the 
most careful observation, but is powerless to either destroy 
or even weaken our assumption as to the nature of the 
movements themselves. 

It is not necessary, nor is it advisable for the argument, 
to explain how the brain of a skilled pianist can receive 
scores of impressions, and discharge over two hundred 
being done. Any one, of course, is welcome to say that 
the two hands are being driven by inconceivably rapid 
alternations of orders issuing from but one centre ; but it 
is none the less true that so far as reason and the most 
careful observation can determine, those volitions or 
transmissions of will are progressing simultaneously and 
concurrently to the ten obedient and supple digits on the 
key-board of the piano, where, of course, the actions 
themselves are obviously and strictly simultaneous in a 
large proportion of their percussive strokes. 

Supposing that a note on the piano could be automatic- 
ally struck TWENTY-FOUR TIMES IN A SECOND, would any 
one of our objectors undertake to either count the number 
struck, or to say indeed that there had been any plurality 
of strokes at all ? No one is competent to perform such 
a feat, and it must be allowed that even the acts thus 
described and executed are absolutely contemporaneous 
in their nature, and that it matters nothing to the 
argument whether they are, in strict scientific language, 
driven and controlled by a series of inconceivably rapid 
consecutive volitions, or not. 

It may be admitted without any reservation that 
the philosophy of " concurrent acts " is " alternate 
THOUGHT." But this admission does not and cannot 
alter the fact that those actions are themselves proceed- 
ing at exactly the same instant of time. 

For example, the specimens of simultaneous writing 
in fig. 8 were done by two little girls in the presence of 




their mother and myself. They had never attempted 
either left-handed or two-handed writing until the 
occasion on which these very creditable productions were 
executed, but in their brushwork and some other occupa- 
tions the two hands had been either separately or 
concurrently employed. 

The actual execution of these writings was not 
CONSECUTIVE, nor could they be with any truth described 
as hesitating or interrupted. No, they were almost 
as continuous and flowing as when each girl was using 
her right hand alone. Indeed, it was surprising to me 
that there was such a uniformity of steady progress, 
for I little suspected that the girls would exhibit such 
wonderful command of their two hands in the test. 

It will be observed in these first attempts that the left- 
hand writing is inferior to the right in steadiness of 
stroke — which is a natural thing, and almost an in- 
evitable one — but it will also be remarked how much the 
right hand and stroke suffer, and fall far below the normal 
standard by this simultaneous effort. The explanation is 
not far to seek. Many psychological problems of the 
deepest interest and importance present themselves in 
connection with the development of concurrent impulses 
and acts. The whole question bristles with curious and 
attractive speculations that ^an only be satisfied and 
solved by experience and investigation. 

In giving the next examples of simultaneous work, it is 
needful to say that they are the outcome of barely seven 
months of elementary practice in copy-book writing ; 
that her first attempt at two-handed concurrent writing 
outside those copy-books was the production of the 
two letters, of which copies are here given, and that no 
tuition whatever was received by her during the period 
named. The writer of the specimens was sixteen years 
old. (Figs. 9 to 14.) 

"With regard to the examples which include the working 
of a few elementary calculations, the diversity of the 


These two letters were 

Leit Hand. 

u 3, {Dark "^^crace, 

(Bast ^ 

oxkz . 

clb||(AjMrit liittOu [xAXIj eToilv ^f^xiAuL' AO 

Fig. 13. 

Page 178 

written simultaneously. 

Righ Hand. 

A. uAxsJL ^ 

OotTQ .JW ^ U, 40 . 

'not ^ Uurve. ^WLeAvtfc^ '?>^ 

UtX Vk^OAj "^/^ U>\xytc , Kj(yl>JLr\^ '-j/Ko 

Fig- 13. 

Page 178 

Conclusion of two letters 

Left Hand. 

c^'ouvn. eA>€Ay r^j^^^^\jJy. bnHJ^ 

Fig. 14. 

Page 173 

written simultaneously. 

Right Hand. 

'xyyjj^ V\yiAj ^anK/T^^cUu^,kl 

rig. 14. 

Page 178 






actions is obvious. There is no connection between the 
two streams of thought in the writing ; there is no 
relation between the writing and the drawing ; and what 
association can there be between the drawing and the 
arithmetic ? 

Necessarily the difficulty is greatly increased where 
models or headlines have to be copied as in fig. 12, 
because the attention has to be directed to the copy, 
and also to the imitation, at any rate partially. 

These samples of concurrent two-handed work prove 
two things — first, they demonstrate the proposition which 
we set out in this section to establish, viz. the absolute 
coincidence of the acts alluded to ; and second, the 
AMAZING POSSIBILITIES which exist in a fully developed 
and systematic scheme of Ambidextral Culture, when such 
scheme shall regulate our education and permeate the 

To prove the third proposition it will only be necessary 
to resort once more to what is actually going on all around 
us. It is matter of common knowledge that at present 
in a large number of professions and handicrafts two- 
handed skill is needed, and that concurrent Ambidextral 
ability is no less an indispensable qualification. Through 
the whole domain of sports, athletics, surgery, music, 
engineering, and weaving — with scores of other occupations 
— the workman must possess — be he university lecturer 
or skilled artizan — two dextrous hands, and he must 
also be competent to use them both at the same time with 
equal reliability. 

It is not found, and it has never been found, that 
such simultaneous work, although continued daily 
for an entire lifetime, has ever exercised a dele- 
terious effect upon the mental or physical struc- 
ture, faculties, or functions of the individual ! ! 

Ergo, simultaneous Ambidextral work must be harmless 
and healthful, as well as expedient and necessary. 

Such being the position, the question arises, What 



objections can be urged against it ? What are the 
reasons, if any, why the two hands should not be employed 
simultaneously to the extent, and in the manner, set forth 
in the preceding pages ? They are all comprised in these 
two : — 

1st. That simultaneous work conduces to mediocrity 
in mental development, and diminishes the 
power of concentration. 

2nd. That simultaneous work is an abuse of the brain's 
activity and would lead to evil results. 

Speaking generally, these two objections are purely 
hypothetical. And whilst we are quite willing, nay 
anxious, to have the whole subject ventilated in the most 
thorough manner, as the following paragraphs will show, 
we most strongly take exception to charges of such a 
nature being considered as capable of influencing the con- 
troversy one way or the other. That these objections 
have no foundation in fact, will be apparent as the 
discussion proceeds. 

We are told that exercising the brains on two totally 
different subjects at the same time produces mediocrity, 
inasmuch as it diminishes the power of concentration. 
The objector shall speak for himself : — 

"The reason that I fear that mediocrity is likely to be 
the result of simultaneous work with the two hemispheres 
of the brain is that I cannot help thinking it is likely to 
destroy the power of concentration, and it is my experience 
which leads me to fear it. . . . I was at one time in the 
book trade, and at one period was in the cashier's desk. 
My time not being fully occupied, I used to read during 
the intervals, and became so far absorbed in my book that 
the noises in the shop did not affect me unless I had some 
concern in them — that is, that my brain was following the 
story, and at the same time was alert to notice the par- 
ticular sounds and actions which called for my attention. 
I found that the habit which I then formed prevented me 
from concentrating my thoughts on a book or problem 


when talking was going on around me, and still suffer to 
a certain extent from the same inconvenience. I also find 
musical sounds so masterful that if I am talking to any 
one and music commences, I lose the thread of my 
argument if even the music be only that of a penny whistle. 
I do not know whether this is connected. Now there 
must be many people who are similarly constituted to 
myself, and it seems to me dangerous to accept as a 
general principle a course of action which may have the 
effect of lessening the power of concentration in some cases, 
for I think we are all agreed that it is the concentrated 
worker who is most likely to be of use to himself and the 

With all deference to the author of this objection, we 
think not only that the facts are insufficient, but that the 
logic is utterly bad. Apart from every other consideration, 
the argument is unsound and the deductions valueless, 
because there is no information as to the powers of con- 
centration possessed by this gentleman prior to his 
assuming the duties of fcashier. Given that his faculty of 
concentration was perfect before he occupied that post, 
we then have a requisite condition for entering upon a 
critical examination of his objection, but in the absence of 
that information it is patent that there is " no case." 
However, there is no desire to treat the obviously sincere 
difficulty with such scant courtesy, and for the sake of 
analysis and discussion it shall be supposed that his power 
of concentration was not only perfect, but was abnormally 
developed. Looking carefully into the facts stated, it is 
seen that during the intervals of repose from active duty 
he occupied his mind in reading, and he became so far 
absorbed in his subject as to be absolutely indifferent to 
the noises in the shop unless they concerned himself. 
Here another essential element is lacking in the premises, 
viz. the length of time in which he was following this 
occupation, for he says that the habit then formed 
prevented him in after years concentrating his thoughts 



on a book or a problem when talking was going on around 
him, which defect (as he considers it) he still suffers from 
— many years subsequent to the formation of the habit. 
But surely his syllogism has gone all wrong. He says 
that the habit formed of concentrating Ms thoughts 
on a story so completely as to be oblivious of all talking 
and noises around him (unless such noises and talking 
concerned his duties) afterwards prevented him from doing 
the very thing which had become a habit or second nature 
with him in the shop ! This is inexplicable. If you 
contract a habit, you have it, you possess it ; but our 
objector says the very contraction of the habit prevented 
him from exercising it, or disqualified him for the per- 
formance of it ! It is an impossibility. It is a contradiction 
in terms. And what is to be said regarding the perfect 
powers of concentration that he possessed before contract- 
ing this habit, in the shop ? If, by this practice at the 
desk, he acquired the power of so concentrating his mind 
on the subject-matter of his book as to be totally indiffer- 
ent to the manifold noises all around him, and got so 
accustomed to this faculty that it became a habit, how, in 
the name of logic, or reason, or fact, could that habit 
prevent him from concentrating his thoughts on a book or 
problem when talking was going on around him in the 
house or elsewhere at an afterdate, or in other words, how 
can a habit prevent itself? 

Once more the logic is bad when it is assumed that 
because a man is unable to study in a babel of noises, 
therefore he lacks the power of concentration. Most of 
our greatest thinkers, our deepest and most profound 
philosophers, require solitude or silence during their times 
of work ; and why is silence imposed upon the members 
of every reading-room if it is not because talking distracts 
the mind or " prevents concentration " ? Surely the 
objector does not mean to say that because a man cannot 
" reason in a riot," therefore he is not thoughtful and 
is incapable of thinking ; or that because he must study 


in silence, therefore he is characterized by mediocrity 
in mentahty ? The fact that this gentleman was so 
sensitive to external noises, and so hypersensitive to the 
witching notes of music, even when issuing from " a penny 
whistle," is no evidence whatever that the doing of two 
things simultaneously at the paying-desk had destroyed or 
impaired his powers of concentration. As well might we 
say that because silence is imposed in a concert room — 
the audience being unable to appreciate the performance 
in a rabble — the listeners are not musical or are incapable 
of listening. 

But the reply of the objector is that the brain was 
" following the story and at the same time was alert to 
notice the particular sounds and actions which called for 
his attention." Once more the facts are defective, because 
the two lobes were not actively engaged at the same time ; 
the first was engaged, according to the statement, in read- 
ing and apprehending the novel, the other was " alert," on 
the qui vive, but absolutely insensible to all noises save 
those of a certain kind ; figuratively speaking, the second 
lobe (if we assume the brain to be functionally as 
well as organically dual) was synchronized to particular 
sounds, and it only responded to those sounds. This can 
hardly be called active ratiocination, and the whole thing 
is a mere bagatelle compared with what goes on in every 
workshop, laboratory, factory, schoolroom, and every 
kitchen in the land. What more complicated, or more 
psychologically remarkable or unusual, what more difficult 
is there in this action of our critic, than in the daily 
occupation of a mother, who, whilst actively engaged in 
domestic duties, is ever on the alert for the cry of her young 
babe ; than in the ordinary avocation of the cook, who, 
however busily occupied in culinary duties, is ever on the 
alert for the first smell of burning from the oven ; or in a 
thousand-and-one trades and handicrafts all around us 
where the artizan, whilst engaged in far more complicated 
and difficult functions than the reading of a novel could 



ever become, must be, and ever is, on the continual 
strain to see a weakness, to hear a variation, or to 
feel a tremor, that shall indicate danger to the fabric, 
the metal, or the machinery over which he is presiding ? 
The idea that we cannot do two things well at the 
same time is entirely wrong, and is contradicted in 
actual life every day of a person's existence, as we have 
already seen. 

In conclusion, there is no evidence to show that dual 
and multiple action of the brain and simultaneous exercise 
of both hands under ordinary conditions are in the least 
degree calculated to impair the power of concentration or 
to produce mediocrity in mental development ; but there 
is abundant evidence to show that such dual and multiple 
action and such two-handed simultaneous work are 
practised universally and generally without any such 
undesirable consequences resulting therefrom. 

The second objection which has been advanced against 
** concurrent handiwork " is that the writing of two letters 
at the same time " is an abuse of the brain's activity, and 
will lead to evil results " ! In other words, that it is too 
great a strain, and that it therefore positively injures the 
mental powers. As this is the pronouncement of a 
recognized authority and of a most distinguished 
specialist on the brain, we feel some considerable hesi- 
tancy in replying to it. However, so confident are we in 
the position we occupy and in the corroboration of our 
theory v\'hich is to be found in every section and depart- 
ment of the community, that we do not for one moment 
fear the result. Since this authority holds the opinion 
" that the brain is functionally one, so far as thought 
and all such high endowments are concerned," it is not a 
matter of surprise that he objects to " the simultaneous 
writing of two epistles with both hands." 

The most effectual answer to such an objection will be, 
we think, to make a frank and unqualified appeal to 
existing customs, to prevailing and well-known methods, 


to practical life and incontrovertible facts. Casting our 
eyes around us, there is little difficulty in obtaining ample 
material for our purpose. 

We take the weaver at the hand-loom as a specimen, 
whom we have watched for so many hours in our boy- 
hood's days. Ten hours constituted the full day's work 
at that time, but how many workers continued their 
labours to twelve or fourteen hours, for weeks together, 
who can tell ? Now if any one will consider the manifold 
and actually concurrent acts of the two hands and the 
two feet of the artizan in the process of weaving, as pre- 
viously outlined : how, in addition to the contrary and 
independent movements of all four limbs, the attention 
must never be allowed to stray from the silk, cotton, or 
thread in the bobbin or cop of the shuttle ; how the 
automatic action of the two hands must be regularly 
maintained ; how the movements of the feet (which are 
both automatic and intelligent, requiring unremitting care 
lest the wrong pressure of the treadles disarrange or 
spoil the warp) must be carried on with the most un- 
remitting precision ; and how, lastly, the warp itself, as 
the weaving proceeds, demands the greatest vigilance on 
the part of the workman from the first throw of the 
shuttle to the very last ; — it will promptly be conceded 
that here we have an instance of complicated, combined, 
simultaneous, intelligent, and automatic movements, 
compared with which the mere composing and writing of 
two different letters are only child's play. Yet it is not 
found that a lifetime of such employment, engaging the 
powers of the individual for eight or twelve hours daily, 
exercises any such deleterious effect on the mind as is 
shadowed forth in the second objection. On the con- 
trary, the weavers of that day were conspicuous, in the 
various trade agitations that occurred, for their superior 
intelligence and shrewdness, their keen wit, and their 
logical acumen. Many other handicrafts afford similar 
illustrations of this dual and multiple action of the brain 



in long-maintained occupations, and with just as little 
harm to the mechanic. 

It may, therefore, be accepted as true that thousands 
and tens of thousands of the artizan class are engaged 
daily in compound or manifold work that requires simul- 
taneous attention to, and direction of, two or three, or 
even more, processes and functions in their respective 
trades, and in all cases without any impairment of their 
reasoning faculties. 

But looking more closely into the Doctor's pronounce- 
ment, let us ascertain what he means by " functional 
unity, so far as thought and all such high endowments 
are concerned." Does he mean that the brain is actually 
limited and restricted to thinking only one thought at a 
time, and that it is impossible for it to think two ? If 
so, and he is correct, there can be but little danger in the 
attempt to do it, for it can but result in ignominious 
failure. It simply cannot be done, and no one need try ; 
therefore the simple and so-called simultaneous writing 
of two different epistles, as well as the complex and 
assumed concurrent acts of the weaver, are reduced to 
the commonplace exhibition of instantaneous alterna- 
tions of volitions, with which even the ordinary brain 
of the rawest countr5'man is perfectly familiar from his 
youth upwards. Hence the complicated movements of 
the two hands and two feet of the organist over the 
manuals, stops, and pedals in the interpretation of a 
new service, and his criticism of his choir's singing — 
with all the multifarious demands upon his attention 
which such an achievement necessitates, are all the 
result of " instantaneous alternations of volition," even 
when several of those motions or acts involve con- 
tinuous concurrent attention and intelligent control ! . . . 
If so, then argument is useless, and there necessarily 
cannot be any such thing as the brain doing two 
THINGS AT THE SAME TIME ; all it can do is to transmit, 
say to the two hands in the act of simultaneous writing, 


instantaneous alternations of orders to write this and that 

But if, as Dr. Wigan in his nineteenth proposition 
states, " One cerebrum may be entirely destroyed by 
disease, . . . may be annihilated, and yet the mind re- 
main complete, and capable of exercising its functions in 
the same manner and to the same extent that the 
eye is capahle of exercising the faculty of vision 
when its fellow is injured or destroyed," — and we 
have not yet seen this statement contradicted, for the 
annals of surgery are confirming it in every week of the 
3^ear — the conclusion that the brain is a dual organ, and 
functionally double, at the least, is absolutely irresistible. 

Further, it may very pertinently be asked, if one lobe 
of the brain (one side or one brain) can thus be removed, 
and its fellow continue the process of volition, &c., 
apparently as well as before, what was the special 

APPEARANCE ? Surely it possessed the same powers 
to be the left lobe in a right-handed person, according to 
all orthodox teaching the destroyed hemisphere was 
superior to the one left behind, or at any rate was 
developed to a greater extent, and was, as Dr. Bastian 
himself calls it, the leading hemisphere. 

That there are two hemispheres (so-called) is un- 
questioned ; that the difference in organization between 
them is small, and may be made much less by cultivation, 
is universally admitted ; that their functional activity and 
ability may be practically equal is not denied. Why, then, 
may not both act as well in independence of each other as 
in combination ? We cannot say, and Medical Science 
has not yet supplied an answer. 

Sir James Paget, in a public address some years ago, 
stated that " he remembered once hearing Mdlle. Janotha 
play a Presto, by Mendelssohn, and he counted the notes 
and the time occupied. She played 5,595 notes in four 



minutes, three seconds. It seemed startling, but let them 
look at it in the fair amount of its wonder. Every one of 
those notes involved certain movements of a finger, 
laterally as well as those up or down. They also involved 
repeated movements of the wrists, elbows, arms, alto- 
gether probably not less than one movement for each 
note. Therefore there were three distinct movements for 
each note. As there were twenty-four notes per second, 
and each of those notes involved three distinct musical 
movements, that amounted to seventy-two movements 
in each second. Moreover, each of those notes was 
determined by the will to a chosen place, with a certain 
force, at a certain time, and with a certain duration. 
Therefore there were four distinct qualities in each of the 
seventy-two movements in each second. Such were the 
transmissions outwards. And all those were conditional 
on consciousness of the position of each hand and each 
finger before it was moved, and, while moving it, the 
sound of each note and the force of each touch. There- 
fore there were three conscious sensations to every note. 
There were seventy-two transmissions per second, 144 to 
and fro, and those with constant change of quality. Let 
them imagine it in telegraph wires. And then, added to 
that, all the time the memory was remembering each 
note in its due time and place, and was exercised in the 
comparison of it with others that came before. So that 
it would be fair to say that there were not less than 200 
transmissions of nerve force to and from the brain out- 
wards and inwards every second, and during the whole 
of that time judgment was being exercised as to whether 
the music was being played worse or better than before, 
and the mind was conscious of some of the emotions 
which the music was intended to impress." 

Apart from, and in spite of, the fact that the figures are 
not quite accurate, as calculated from the statistics given 
(there being not twenty-four notes per second, but only 
twenty-three) the gross estimate of " 200 transmissions of 
nerve force to and from the brain outwards and inwards 


every second" is undoubtedly a moderate one, and, 
candidly, we are bewildered when we contemplate the 

Does not such an amazing achievement suggest the idea 
that either the mind is of so infinitely subtle a nature as 
to be possessed of powers surpassing our wildest con- 
ceptions, or that it is composed of a multiplicity of 
intelligences each of which is competent to perform all 
the functions and volitions of a complete intellectual 
faculty ? Even a dual or a triple mind would seem quite 
inadequate to accomplish so marvellous a task. But 
there is still more beyond all this, for if 200 intelligent 
volitions or movements per second be the extent of Mdlle. 
Janotha's performance, can we not fairly and reasonably 
expect that her own, or a Paderewski's brain, shall exceed 
even this stupendous effort, and execute as many as 250 
distinct intelligent movements in one second, if the 
requisite practice or training were taken ! 

Whether the brain be functionally single, dual, or 
manifold, what matters it as to the question before us ? 
If as a single organ it is able to accomplish 200 separate 
volitions or transmissions of nerve energy in a single 
second of time, which transmissions are thus practically 
instantaneous and concurrent ; if as a dual organ or 
manifold organ the brain can successfully despatch the 
same number of intelligent messages to divers destinations 
in the human body in the sixtieth part of a minute — 
that is, to perform no less than two hundred consecutive 
and concurrent acts ; and if, as either a single or a 
multiple organ, the brain can continue and maintain such 
phenomenal activity for one, nay for two hours at a time 
without apparent injury, — how can the insignificant and 
comparatively easy work of writing two letters at the 
same time be considered dangerous or damaging to the 
writer ? The operation is simplicity itself when contrasted 
with the transcendental complications connected with the 
rational apprehension and the correct emission of 200 
musical and psychical commands ! ! 



The fatal inconsistency of our objectors is clearly 
displayed in the fact that when they commit their own 
children to the tender mercies of pianoforte teachers, they 
raise not even a whisper of protest when it is found that 
the juvenile pupils are being instructed to do two totally 
different things with their hands at exactly the same time ! 
Oh no, the idea seems never to strike them that a course of 
lessons on that beautiful instrument has for its chief and 
ever dominant aim the equal simultaneous develop- 
ment OF BOTH HANDS ; also that throughout the entire 
musical life of the child its future success or failure 
absolutely depends upon the attainment, or non-attain- 
ment, of this two-handed skill ; and further, that the 
ofttimes wearisome daily practice imposed by the pro- 
fessor — and most cordially approved of by the parent — is 
far more severe, far more exhausting, and far more intricate, 
than the short, easy, and progressive, simultaneous two- 
handed writing lessons given in class routine according to 
the lines laid down in the pages of this treatise. 

Undoubtedly, if it be objectionable — as conducing to 
mediocrity, diminishing the power of concentration, and 
damaging the brain-tissue — to prescribe simultaneous 
calligraphic two-handed exercises, much more objection- 
able and pernicious, much more inexcusable and 
reprehensible is it to inflict upon our children such a 
rigorous and exacting cruelty as a two-handed musical 
course of study and practice must, by parity of reasoning, 
inevitably prove to be. 

It must therefore be granted that the objections raised 
against concurrent Ambidextral handwriting (as previously 
detailed) either entirely lose their proclaimed virtue in 
the face of universal custom where musical training is 
concerned, or, if they have any inherent force against 
calligraphy, it is multiplied tenfold when applied to 
pianoforte instruction. 

Wherefore, this modicum of simultaneous two-handed 
penmanship (which, by the way, is not a preparation for 


future concurrent bimanual performances, as is the case 
in a musical course) must be accepted as innocent, 
legitimate, and advantageous, or piano-teaching is an 
injustice and a barbarity to be summarily condemned and 
abolished ! 

Moreover, it may not be amiss to draw attention to a 
well-known significant and apparently conclusive circum- 

No one denies that women are much more widely 
Ambidextrous, and to a much greater degree, than the 
stronger sex ; which, as already shown, is owing chiefly 
to their piano-playing, and to the multiplicity of their per- 
sonal and domestic occupations where the simultaneous 
and separate use of both hands is imperatively required. 

Again, no one will question for a moment that the 
successful preparation for a mathematical tripos examina- 
tion and for a senior wranglership demands the highest 
possible quality of brain matter, and the intensest form 
of concentrative ability on the part of the candidates. 

How is it, then, we ask, that women students hold their 
own in the Cambridge contests, and that such a large 
proportion of them secure the highest honours when in 
open competition with their superior (!) — because one- 
handed — male rivals ? 

And not only in mathematics, but in medicine and 
science, in language and literature do we find these 
inferior — because partially Ambidextrous — individuals 
taking their full share of honours and distinctions in the 
very teeth of a class of competing candidates, who have 
the three-fold advantage of natural selection (a 
legacy of success through many generations), a more 
robust and vigorous physique and temperament, and the 
vaunted superiority of a lopsided one-handedness. 

If this, to us inexplicable, phenomenon can be 
satisfactorily explained by those who so emphatically 
denounce Ambidextral culture, much will be accom- 
plished towards the substantiation of their hypothesis. 



Lastly, we will take the well-known Paul Cinque- 
VALLi as a typical case of multiplex manual and mental 
action. Among the amazing combinations which he 
exhibits is the following : — He balances a tumbler on 
three straws resting upon his upturned face, he twirls 
a hat on a stick that he holds in his right hand, whilst 
with his left hand he juggles with two other hats which 
he keeps in continual motion by throwing them up in 
the air alternately, and all the time maintaining the 
balanced tumbler on those three precarious straws ! 

Moreover he writes me as follows : — " Without knowing 
that Ambidextral culture had such marvellous results, I 
some years ago trained myself to sit at a piano and 
play an accompaniment with the left hand to my own 
whistling, composed of various tunes which were dictated 
to me by a person standing on my left ; at the same time 
another standing on my right dictated a letter which I 
wrote down with my right hand. 

" Also I could follow a conversation between two people, 
juggle two or three objects with my right hand, and 
follow a third person trying to puzzle me by rushing from 
one tune to another. ... I feel it my duty to congratulate 
you on such marvellous success. I have years ago 
experimented a great deal to use my hands and sight 
independently of each other in quite different ways, but 
this was only to entertain. Your culture will be of great 
service to the coming generations." — (March 15th, 1904.) 

Now does this daily and perpetual simultaneous work 
and strain injure the mind or brain of this popular juggler 
any more than the concentrated study and unidextral 
handwriting of a senior wrangler does a Moulton ? 
Does a pianist — Busoni or Paderewski — deteriorate sooner 
or more than a novelist — as Barr or Pemberton ? Does 
the Ambidextral organist fall into decay so much sooner 
than his unidextrous vicar ? When and where in the 
whole range of volition and movement have we one single 
instance of the injurious character of dual or multiple 


action of the mind, or of its damaging influence upon the 
brain and upon its maximum working strength ? No- 

Reviewing the entire question, we think it has been 
satisfactorily estabhshed that there are dual and corre- 
sponding motor centres in the two brains, or brain lobes, 
respectively, each of which, quite independently of its 
fellow, is fully competent to carry on all the ordinary 
processes of reception and transmission ; but that with 
reference to the mind, it may be single, dual, or mul- 
tiple ; and in any case it is capable of transmitting such 
rapidly successive volitions as to be practically instan- 
taneous and simultaneous in their character. 

Wherefore the conceiving and conveying of two 
separate and unrelated, but concurrent, trains of thought 
to two different sheets of paper can by no means or 
stretch of the imagination be considered as either difficult 
or dangerous, even if prolonged for a series of hours, or 
over a number of days during the ordinary working times ; 
and, still further, the cultivation of the two hands to 
an equal degree will, according to Gowers (pp. 122-4), to 
Bastian (p. 135), to Noble Smith (p. 126), and to every 
modern authority, tend to the more perfect, uniform, 
and symmetrical development and organization of both 
brains (or lobes of the brain) so that the individual must 
thus be advantaged to an extent hitherto unapproached 
by any system of unidextral education. 

In conclusion, there is not a student that sits down to 
the piano to accompany her own song that does not 
engage in a much more trying and intricate exercise than 
that of which we are speaking. The proof of this is in the 
fact that a girl of seventeen has written two letters 
concurrently at the first attempt quite successfully 
(after eight months' practice of elementary copy-book 
imitation work), as may be seen in figs. 13 and 14 of this 
Manual ; whereas to accomplish the other and harder task 
equally satisfactorily requires years of study and practice. 




That years of such study and practice produce neither 
mediocrity, diminution of concentrative ability, nor loss 
of brain power, but quite the contrary, is seen in the fact 
that organists and pianists are amongst our most profound 
and accomplished musicians and authors ; men who have 
written some of the greatest musical compositions the 
world has ever seen ! ! All biological phenomena de- 
monstrate the great principle that concurrent dual or 
multiple action of the brain or mind has undoubtedly a 
stimulating and healthy effect upon the mental faculties, 
and it may therefore be confidently anticipated that the 
small amount of simultaneous two-handed work prescribed 
to school children under the scheme shadowed forth in 
these pages will have a most salutary ^influence upon 
their lives, in addition to so materially increasing their 
usefulness as Ambidexters in the numerous domains of 
literature, science, and art which they may ultimately 
occupy, as to raise the standard of that usefulness many 
grades higher than it has ever yet reached. 

Generally speaking, then, it may be safely conceded : — 

1. That there is a latent power or faculty in every sane 
person to execute two totally different things or acts with 
his two hands simultaneously, those acts being either 
mechanical or intelligent. 

2. That every person is capable of becoming as expert 
in the execution of two concurrent unrelated acts as he 
is in the performance of one. 

3. That the scientific culture of each hand singly, and 
of both hands simultaneously, throughout the entire 
school-life of the child is attended with the most desirable 
results, manually, mentally, and physically. 

4. That the introduction of any additional simultaneous 
manual labour in the several handicrafts and pursuits of 
manufacturing and commercial life, beyond what has 
hitherto been found essential to the effective discharge of 
duty and to the perfect efficiency of the workman, would 
be unwise, dangerous, and is to be strongly resisted. 




The expediency of adopting ambidextral instruction in 
schools ought not, in the fitness of things, to require a 
word of demonstration. Those who have devoted any 
time at all to the subject are unanimous in their verdict ; 
and therefore we are having a phenomenal rush towards 
free-arm blackboard drawing and bimanual art-teaching, 
both amongst publishers and teachers. These converts 
to handicraft are quite convinced of its great advantages 
in certain occupations of life or in particular branches of 
educational work, such as drawing, clay-modelling, wood- 
carving, piano-playing, and carpentry ; but, strange to 
say, they fail to generalize, and to grasp the much more 
important truth that A universal two-handedness, 
similarly adaptable to and available in every function and 
department of industry, is, or ought to be, the real object 
of our efforts. 

It is reasonable to suppose that if a partial introduc- 
tion of bimanual skill is so valuable in a limited number 
of employments, how much more desirable and neces- 
sary is it to possess the wider, the complete development 
of the faculty, so that the whole community shall reap 
the inestimable benefits of such an acquisition in all its 
innumerable ramifications ? 

Thus if all our sailors and soldiers, our surgeons and 



sportsmen, our artists and artizans, our clerks and 
cricketers, and all other manual operators, were as adept 
with the left hand as with the right, what a revolution 
would be effected in the realms of navigation, warfare, 
commerce, manufacture, art, science, and sport ! 

But what is the present condition of things ? It is 
pitiable ; for of all the millions of embryo mechanics and 
manipulators that are turned out from our schools ever}' 
year throughout the Empire, not one of them is 


No ! They are without exception lopsided, imperfect, 
miserably deficient candidates for the numerous occupa- 
tions they hope to enter. Certainly they are all possessed 
of two hands which, having no natural physical dis- 
ability, ought to be equally capable of doing any and 
every kind of work ; but instead of this, we find that 
whereas one hand has graduated with honours, the other 
has not got through the rudiments of an elementary 

Is the candidate a medical student ? Has he not to go 
into training with his incompetent left hand, and often 
for a long period, ere he can hold and use his surgical 
instruments ? And whatever profession or trade the 
candidate may intend to follow, has he not, almost always, 
to waste precious time in training his left hand to do that 
which his nurse, his mother, and, worst of all, his teacher, 
most vigorously and rigorously disqualified it for doing 
during the many years that he was amenable to their 
cruel kindness ? 

School is supposed to be the preparation place of our 
children for their future lives, and yet 999 out of every 
1,000 schools in the country neglect — deliberately and of 
set purpose neglect — the cultivation of one of the most 
useful members of the body, although common sense, 
common fairness, and the common occupations of every- 
day existence (as well as the respective exigencies thereof) 



alike demand a two-handed dexterity which they have 
failed to provide. On this ground of handcraft alone 
(the equal and interchangeable use of the two hands in all 
conceivable employments wherever such use is possible) 
our contention is justifiable, and it may be taken for 
granted that a comprehensive and liberal scheme of 
bimanual training is a desideratum of a perfect education 
that nothing else can or ever will supply. 

Hand-training, then (by this term we mean two-handed 
training), should begin at home and in the nursery. And 
it is here that the least trouble is required, and, curiously 
enough, it is from here that the strongest opposition will 
possibly be encountered. For is it not a fact that 
nurses and mothers fret themselves constantly and weary 
themselves exceedingly in actually suppressing the easy, 
rational, and natural use of the infant's hands ? Where, 
we ask, is the difference between this English mother's 
crippling of her child's left hand, and the (as we think) 
mistaken and benighted Chinese mother's crippling of 
her infant's tiny feet ? The principle, assuredly, is the 
same; and the result is similar, viz. a physical 
disability of a grave and far-reaching character ; a dis- 
ability, it must be observed, far more grave and disastrous 
in its effects in the case of the hands than in the case of 
the feet. Henceforth, let the nurse and the mother 
concentrate their efforts on the encouragement of two- 
handed dexterity in the babe, presenting the toy, or other 
article, sometimes with the left hand, sometimes with 
the right, that the child may take it alternately with the 
right hand and with the left. By this simple method an 
indifferent and indiscriminate use of both hands will be 
engendered that will soon exhibit its effects in a general 
quickening of the impulses and, indeed, of the whole 
being. Instruct the child to use either hand when 
holding the spoon, or knife, or fork at meals ; when 
buttoning or unbuttoning its dress ; when brushing the 
same ; when whipping a top ; when riding its hobby- 



horse ; in short, whenever one hand is engaged in any 
occupation, let the other (the sinistral — be it right or left) 
have its fair full share of the exercise. Before the child is 
old enough to go to school it will by these means become 
a fairly skilful Ambidexter, quite prepared to take its place, 
and that creditably, in the scheme of systematic training 
which awaits it for the next six or seven years, or possibly 
more, of its life. 

If the mother only performs her part in this great 
educational work by stimulating her offspring to practise 
the sinistral hand (be it right or left) diligently and 
faithfully on all possible occasions — even offering such 
potential inducements as small prizes for excellence in 
two-handed manipulation — the first and chief difficulty 
is overcome, and the first essential step towards a 
perfect Ambidexterity has been successfully taken. 

What will now be the condition of our juveniles when 
ready to enter into school-life ? If the child has received 
the home-training which we have faintly outlined, it will 
practically recognize no difference between the two hands 
so far as daily use goes. It will involuntarily use either 
hand, and the one which is the more convenient at the 
instant, in whatever exercise it may be employed. The 
distinctive names "right" and "left" will convey no 
meaning to the child's mind beyond the fact that the 
hands are so called to distinguish them from each other ; 
precisely in the same way, and no more, that we say " right 
and left eye," " right and left ear," " right and left foot," 
" right and left side." Should the infant be one of the 
seventeen right-hand biassed, or one of the three left-hand 
biassed, it will naturally have a predisposition to use that 
dexter hand somewhat more frequently than, and pre- 
ferentially to, its sinistral hand ; but the ability to use 
both hands similarly and interchangeably will not be less 
marked or less developed than in the case of those who 
are unconscious of any such strong natural tendency. 

In all infantile and juvenile actions and recreations 


there will be seen an actually indiscriminate, independent, 
and perfectly free employment of both the little hands ; so 
that whether spinning a top, trundling a hoop, digging 
in the sand ; whether drawing a ship or writing a line of 
pot-hooks, each hand is brought into requisition, either in 
accordance with the exigencies of the exercise, or at the 
caprice of the actor. 

From the nursery to the school 's a very serious step to 
most children ; but its great importance need not here be 
more than adverted to in passing. We would, however, 
strongly emphasize the necessity that all our Ambidextral 
instruction must be based on scientific principles, must 
be conducted on systematic lines, must be restricted to no 
limited area, and must be both consistently and enthusi- 
astically carried into every department of school-life. In 
the school, even more particularly than in the home, 
must the child be trained to make no difference, and to 
recognize no difference whatever, between the two hands. 
Each member must be co-equally employed, and the 
special duty of the teacher will be, not as at the present 
to train and perfect a dexter hand, but to keep a vigilant 
look out for any obviously defective, or partly developed, 
sinistral hand ; and then to bring all his powers to bear 
on the cultivation of such backward member until it is 
fully raised and restored to the standard of its more skilful 

Evolutionary progressive lessons or class exercises for 
the hands and arms should be practised every day of every 
session for, say, ten minutes at a time. Later on, when a 
higher degree of proficiency has been attained by the 
pupils, five minutes each morning and afternoon will be 
sufficient. The intelligent teacher will be able to suggest 
and formulate numerous combinations of dissimilar motions 
for the two hands which will cause the greatest merriment 
in the class, whilst it will tax the powers of the pupils to 
no small extent to execute them ; and at the same time be 
most helpful in promoting their progress and development 



to a proportionate degree. These exercises should con- 
sist of both similar and dissimilar movements, in order to 
insure the most complete independence of action in con- 
trary, as well as the most perfect coincidence in similar, 

When considering the teaching of handcraft in the 
various class subjects, it will be advisable to take the 
infant school first. Two-handed writing will form the 
chief exercise here, as also in the upper schools or depart- 
ments (boys' and girls'). It will therefore have a chapter 
to itself (see Chap. 11. Pt. II.). The ordinary kindergarten 
occupations generally admit of the most effective Bimanual 
instruction possible, and special pains should be taken in 
this stage to secure natural and unconscious reciprocity 
between the two hands — a consummation that will not be 
found difficult of attainment with ninety-nine out of every 
100 of the juveniles. Brushwork and basket-making offer 
particularly valuable opportunities, and the former should 
regularly be done by the two hands simultaneously, as 
well as — less frequently — with each hand separately. 

By the time this infant-school course is finished, the 
pupils will be able to write and to draw with both hands 
concurrently, with no small degree of fluency and excel- 
lence. So far as that course goes, these Ambidexters will 
exhibit a skill with both hands, either separately or 
together, over and above anything that one-handed train- 
ing has ever produced ; and if the education has been 
conducted on proper lines, there should be as little differ- 
ence in the use of the two hands as there is in the use of 
the two feet. 

When the child leaves the infant department and enters 
the girls' or boys' school, the third and final stage of its 
Ambidextral novitiate will begin. In the first or pre- 
paratory stage the course consisted almost entirely of 
mechanical pressure or influence, with the least amount 
of intelligent appreciation on the part of the child. In 
the second or intermediate stage there was less of the 


purely mechanical training, and more intelligence was 
infused into the instruction. 

Here, in the last, the longest and the most interesting 
stage, the training appeals principally to the mind and 
intellect, because the equal and perfect use of the two 
hands has become, one may say, absolutely instinctive 
and automatic. Hence, it is during these five to seven 
years of school life that the consummation of Ambidextral 
skill is to be realized, and that the subconscious element 
in handcraft, in one word the automatism, is perfected. 
It is only when this is achieved that the development can 
be looked upon as complete and finished. The children 
are now, to a considerable extent, capable of appreciating 
the value of two-handedness, and the stimulus afforded 
by this knowledge on the part of the scholars will prove 
a great help to the teacher. 

Various interesting questions will arise from time to 
time — questions physical, physiological and psychological 
— when comparing the work of the two hands. In some 
occupations the left hand will actually be found superior 
to the right ; in others the right will be the better hand ; 
whilst in a very large proportion the two hands will be 
about equal. Then these curious variations, it will be 
noticed, are different with different children ; and, strange 
to say, these modifications will, in numerous instances, 
be as attractive to the pupils themselves as to the teacher 
— and, it may be added, will prove as inexplicable to both. 
All through this period the teacher should give short 
expositions of the system, and fully explain to his classes 
the vital importance of a perfect two-handed dexterity in 
every walk of life, in every trade, and in every profession, 
in every employment and in every recreation. 

Let the pupils once realize that in rowing, swimming, 
gymnastics, fishing, cricketing, writing, drawing, painting, 
in piano-playing, in carpentry, wood-carving, smith-work, 
plumbing, bricklaying, stone-cutting, gardening, &c.. 
Ambidextral skill increases their efficiency from 30 per 



cent, to 50 per cent., and they will be as keen in the 
acquirement and application of two-handedness as the 
most ardent teacher can be in the encouragement and 
promotion of it. 

The routine time-table should recognize the teaching 
of Ambidexterity in every possible subject. Inspectors 
should be instructed to accept nothing short of an 
exclusively two-handed scheme, and the reputation and 
reports of the efficiency of the school ought to take into 
consideration the degree of excellence which this Bimanual 
education has attained. 

Periodical tests and examinations necessarily will be a 
prominent feature of the system, and nothing will have a 
happier effect upon the parents than occasional displays 
of the pupils' abilities as exhibited in public or semi-public 
meetings and demonstrations. 

The several instructors in sewing, cookery, laundry- 
work, carpentry, &c., will supplement the ordinary school 
teaching by observing the same rigid impartiality with 
reference to the two hands ; — so that whether using the 
needle, the saw, the plane, or the chisel, both hands will 
receive the same amount of attention and be given an 
equal amount of work. Five minutes, or even ten, might 
^ be allotted to lessons in throwing the cricket-ball with the 
left hand; always combining this practice with right-hand 
work as well, for purposes of comparison in style and 

Intensely exciting contests might be arranged at 
cricket, by two teams agreeing to both bat and bowl with 
the left hand all through a certain match. On the 
return match both teams might use the right hand in 
these two departments. Once more, the match could be 
varied by all on one side using their right hands, whilst 
all on the other used their left hand — of course only in 
batting and bowling, the fielding in every case to be with 
both hands as occasion demanded. 

Then in the tennis courts the same ideas could be 



carried out to the mutual advantage of all concerned — the 
principles being just as adaptable to ping-pong, badminton 
and other recreations, in games and tournaments. 

The ordinary work of arithmetic should be done by the 
two hands alternately, all the class using the left hand one 
day and the right hand on the next. Regular practice 
in simultaneous figure-making, and in simultaneous 
writing down of questions, will evoke the greatest 
excitement and produce excellent results. Speed con- 
tests between the two hands may be conducted and 
encouraged, the innocent rivalry thus established proving 
a valuable stimulus. Another form of competition can be 
introduced to test the excellence of the work done by each 
hand respectively, and this will likewise lend material 
interest to the daily round. Blackboard practice and 
illustration ought not to be neglected, for the pupils will 
enter into the exercise with the keenest zest if the teacher 
allows the boys or girls to give at the blackboard 
demonstrations of their individual skill. Once a week 
will not be found too often for this kind of work. It will 
be wise also for the teacher to ascertain from the scholars 
whether they feel any greater difficulty in working 
arithmetical calculations when using the left hand than 
they do when using the right ; the replies can then be 
tabulated for comparison with the actual percentage of 
correct answers obtained in the class exercises. Mirror- 
figuring with both hands together may present some little 
difficulty to the average class of juveniles, but it will not 
be any the less attractive or profitable to them. It may 
be safely taken two or three times a month. The time 
thus spent on such mirror-writing is by no means lost or 
wasted. The exercise is of considerable mental and 
educational value, as the teacher will discover if he only 
consistently practises it. 

Reference has already been made to cooking, sewing, 
carving, modelling, carpentry and other school subjects ; 
suffice it here to lay down the rule, that the several 



instructors in those departments must aim at maintaining 
a perfect equality of both hands in every manual exercise 
that is taught in the classes. 

The girls — every individual girl — must sew, knit, darn, 
mix, roll and cut the paste, mould and chisel with either 
hand indifferently, and with both hands equally. A series 
of most interesting comparisons may be instituted between 
the boys and the girls, both as to the rates of progress in 
each sex and also as to the character of the work done ; 
whilst many phases of inquiry will open up as to the 
points of resemblance and of contrast, and the difficulties 
peculiar to each class. 

These results should be carefully recorded by the 
teacher, so that any general survey of, or investigation 
into, the phenomena of Ambidextral development may 
have a sufficiency of reliable data to go upon for the 
purposes of averaging, estimating and tabulating, with a 
view to the introduction of modified or additional methods 
of instruction. 

Then, again, the teacher should be on the alert to 
recognize and determine the effects of two-handed 
training upon weak-minded children; and here we are 
bold almost to presumption in predicting a very gratifying 
table of statistics ; because we firmly believe that the 
Bimanual Exercises are calculated to be of great and 
permanent benefit to the unfortunate members of this too 
numerous class of juveniles. This belief is based on the 
admirable and astonishing work of Father Seguin in his 
treatment of the feeble-minded. 

There will, and can, be no possible doubt as to the boon 
conferred by an Ambidextral Education upon pupils and 
students in our Technical Schools. Every handicraft must 
reap great advantages therefrom. On pages 239-242 we 
give a list of crafts, manual arts, and professions. Surely 
no one can glance over its columns without being struck 
with the fact that in nearly every case two-handed 
skill on the part of the artist, mechanic or labourer. 



would increase his value to a material degree, and thus 
bestow a by no means insignificant benefaction upon the 
community at large. 

Whether in designing, drawing, metal-working, or other 
employment, the instruction should enforce the rules and 
regulations already laid down for the other departments, 
giving each hand its due share of work, and devoting 
extra attention at all times to any individual hand that 
may display an inferior aptitude and sensibility to 

Lastly, in the gymnasium, every exercise with wands, 
rings, clubs, dumb-bells, ladders, trapeze, ropes, singlestick, 
vaulting horse, horizontal and parallel bars, must be truly 
and essentially two-handed. It should be the ambition 
of every teacher to make his pupils as truly Bimanous as 
the Quadrumana are themselves with their two front or 
upper limbs ; and that such an accomplishment would 
yield the most astonishing results in unequalled con- 
fidence and unapproachable agility, no one acquainted 
with the powers of the monkey tribe will for a moment 

The Rifle Brigade must go through all the evolutions 
with the left hand just the same as with the right; and 
they will then soon be able to go through their drill with 
the left hand quite as smartly and efficiently as they can 
with their right. A volunteer or regular who can thus 
execute all the movements of gun and sword drill with 
either hand perfectly and independently, must surely be a 
far more valuable defender of his country than the man 
who can use only one hand, and even that one with an 
inferior degree of proficiency. 

Ambidextral Instruction in schools, then, we take it, 
bids fair to become — in Mr. Noble Smith's pregnant if 
not prophetic words — " the most valuable innovation 

IN TUITION of the AGE ! " 



One may pardonably ask, " What do you mean by Two- 
handed Writing ? " Is it that the- writing has been, or 
is to be, done by either hand, or that it is the production 
of both hands ? If the latter, did the hands do their 
work separately or simultaneously ? This chapter is 
primarily intended to show that writing may be so taught 
that the individual is able to do it with either hand 
equally well ; that he is also able to write the same 
exercise with both hands at the same time equally well ; 
and, lastly, that he is able to write diflferent and 
unrelated matter at the same time with his two 

It is an incontrovertible fact that " our organization 
permits us to write with equal facility from top down, 
from right to left, from left to right ; no physiological 
condition has compelled us to choose a particular direc- 

When we know that many millions of our fellows are 
at this moment actually writing in each of these three 
directions — the Japanese write from the top downwards ; 
the Mohammedans from right to left ; and Christians from 
left to right — the statement is unanswerable, and, so far 
as we know, the several millions who thus write in con- 
trary and different directions, appear to find no difficulty 
whatever in their varying modes of work. It may be 
noticed that many persons entertain the idea that writing 
from left to right seems to argue right-handedness, but 


it is a rule which, if accepted, will work both ways ; hence 
it has been retorted : — " Assuming this to be the fact, 
then, since countless millions were writing from right to 
left and from the top downwards, centuries before left-to- 
right penmanship came into existence, we must conclude 
that those were left-handed people. If so, what were those 
nations who wrote from the top downwards ? Were they 
right-handed, left-handed, or were they such perfect 
Ambidexters that they took the happy medium and thus 
favoured neither hand? " 

Although Dr. Erlenmeyer has so earnestly striven to 
prove, by the most patient and able reasoning, that the 
Hebrews were left-handed, specially because of the 
direction of the writing of that ancient people, we fear 
that the Bible references (given on page 14), as also the 
whole trend of Scripture from cover to cover, are con- 
clusive against his theory. The contention that either 
direction is the natural one — to the exclusion of the other 
two — is as unfounded as would be the assertion that it is 
more natural to look towards the right than towards the 
left, or to look up than to look down. 

We have already referred to the importance of writing 
as an Ambidextral function, and this importance can 
hardly be over-estimated. The crystallization of thought 
into visible speech by means of the letters of the alphabet, 
is undoubtedly the most intelligent, complex, and by far 
the most precious discovery and development of civiliza- 
tion. Our hands can engage in no occupation of so 
intricate and intellectual a character. Moreover, writing 
enters into the lives of a larger number or proportion of 
the human (civilized) race than does any other subject in 
our school curriculum. Reading and arithmetic are its 
only rivals ; and of these two, arithmetic retires from the 
contest of necessity ; and with regard to writing, as Lord 
Palmerston very truly said, " Writing is almost as im- 
portant as speaking." And if this is the fact, then, surely 
writing must be quite as important as reading can 


possibly be. Such being the case, we are warranted 
in pushing our inquiries still further into the region of 
Ambidextral skill as exhibited in the art of handwriting. 

Mr. G. V. Poore, in his " Nervous Affections of the 
Hand," very fully and accurately describes the act of 
writing as it affects or produced muscular action in the 
writer. As the subject is one of such supreme importance, 
his delineation is given almost unabridged : — 

" Let us first consider the act of writing, an act prac- 
tised in this country exclusively with the right hand, and 
which we learn to perform fluently only after many years 
of patient labour. We are none of us born writers, and 
the children of educated people do not learn the art with 
materially greater ease than the children of the unedu- 
cated. There is no evidence whatever, I think, that by 
constant practice of the art of writing we generate a 
faculty which is transmissible to succeeding generations, 

" In writing, the pen has to be held with very great 
steadiness, and there are distinctly two acts involved 
in writing, viz. pen-prehension and pen-movement. 
The pen is kept steady (when the art is perfected) mainly 
by the intrinsic muscles of the hand, the interossei and 
the muscle of the ball of the thumb being chiefly employed. 
In order that these muscles may get a firm hold of the 
pen, the carpel and metacarpal bones must be held steady, 
and the wrist joint must also be fixed. This throws work 
on the muscles of the forearm. The elbow must be 
steady, and this throws work on the muscles of the arm. 
The shoulder and scapula must also be steady, and there- 
fore the shoulder and thoracic muscles are brought into 
play. The trunk has to be kept firm, which involves 
contraction on the part of the spinal muscles, and in 
order that the pelvis may give a firm support to the spine, 
the legs have to be firmly fixed. There is scarcely a 
muscle in the body that is not brought into play in the 
act of writing, and if we watch a little child at its writing 
lesson, we generally see that it hitches one leg round the 


leg of a chair in order to steady the pelvis and trunk, and 
so great is the muscular effort involved that the face 
muscles contract consentaneously, and the movements of 
the pen are, as often as not, followed by the tongue. 

" The act of writing is primarily divisible into (i) the 
act of prehension, and (2) the act of moving the pen ; and 
the act of moving may be again sub-divided into (a) the 
Stroke-making movement ; (b) the movement of the hand 
from left to right ; (c) from right to left ; and lastly 
(d) the ink-dipping movement. 

" Besides the act of prehension, there is (3) another 
muscular act, this is the poising of the forearm and hand, 
which is ordinarily kept about three-quarters prone, the 
hand being balanced upon the pisiform bone and little 
finger. Thus it will be seen that writing is divisible into 
three acts — the prehension of the pen, the poising of 
the hand and forearm, and the movement of the 
pen, and there is probably no muscle between the shoulder 
and the fingers which is not brought frequently into 
action during writing. 

" The muscular action to which we wish to direct very 
particular attention is that of prehension. The pen is 
normally held between the thumb and the first two fingers. 
The thumb and index finger form an oval ring through 
which the penholder passes, being held by the distal and 
resting on the proximal end of the said oval. The distal 
ends of the metacarpal bones of the thumb and index 
fingers are widely separated ; the first phalanx of the 
thumb is abducted; the phalangeal joint forms an angle 
which is more or less acute in different writers ; and the 
pulps of the terminal phalanges of the thumb and index 
finger are, but for the intervention of the pen, almost 
directly opposed to each other. With regard to the first 
two fingers, the proximal phalanges are flexed, and the 
two terminal phalanges nearly straight. The muscles 
which keep the thumb and fingers in this attitude of 
prehension are, we believe, with one exception, intrinsic 




muscles of the hand ; in proof of which, if the rheophores 
of a faradising apparatus with big sponges be placed the 
one on the palmer surface of the hand between the thumb 
and index finger, and the other on the dorsal surface of 
the metacarpal bone of the index finger (so as to influence 
more or less the special muscles of the thumb and first 
two fingers) the thumb and first two fingers will assume 
an attitude of pen-prehension (saving only the flexing of 
the phalangeal joint of the thumb), and a pen held 
between them will be tightly grasped. 

" The muscles chiefly concerned in the muscular act are, 
we believe, as follows : — The interossei of the first two 
fingers which flex their respective first phalanges (the 
dorsal muscles further helping the act of prehension by 
dragging the first two fingers towards the thumb) : the 
abductor poUicis, which abducts the first phalanx, an 
action without which proper opposition of the pulps of 
the thumb and index finger would be impossible. The 
opponens pollicis and flexor brevis pollicis, as their 
names indicate, are also important muscles in the act of 
prehension. The phalangeal angle of the thumb is 
maintained, in a great measure — if not entirely — by the 
action of the extensor primi internodii pollicis. 

" The muscular effort of poising' the hand is thrown 
chiefly on the supinators. The hand is three-quarters 
prone, and in this position the weight of the hand tends 
to make pronation complete — a tendency which is checked 
by the supinator longus, the supinator brevis, and possibly 
the extensors of the thumb. 

" The stroke-making movements are accomplished 
by the long flexor of the thumb, and the extensor 
secundi internodii, the flexor profundus digitorum, 
and the extensor communis digitorum. The up-strokes 
are in part dependent on an increased action of the 

"The movement of the arm from left to right depends 
chiefly on the triceps extensor, and that from right to left 


on the pectoralis. The muscles concerned on the ink- 
dipping movement scarcely require naming. . . . 

" Further, as to the act of writing, it must be borne in 
mind that it is one of the most complicated possible, 
perhaps the most complicated muscular act which is ever 
performed by the body. The act of writing takes years 
of patient labour to acquire ; and although children begin 
to learn very early in life, it is seldom before adult age is 
reached that their writing loses those evident marks of 
juvenility which we all know how to recognize. Perfect 
writing should be an act accomplished without effort, and 
almost without thought ; or, in other words, it should 
be a purely automatic act, and one accomplished by an 
expenditure of mental stimulus so small that we can 
scarcely recognize it. For the accomplishment of the act 
of writing a very large number of muscles is required, and 
when we consider the light, yet firm grasp of the pen 
which is necessary, the poising of the hand in the semi- 
prone position, the stroke-making movements of the pen 
accomplished by the flexion and extension of the fingers, 
the travelling of the hand across .the paper and back 
again, and the journey of the hand to the ink-pot ; we see 
that nearly every muscle between the shoulder and the 
finger-tips is brought into play, and we cease to wonder 
that years are required for educating these muscles to 
work accurately and harmoniously together. 

"There may or may not be a 'co-ordinating centre' 
whose function it is to control the act of writing ; this is 
a matter of speculation. It is, however, tolerably certain 
that, should one or more of the muscles which have been 
so laboriously educated, exceed or fail in its work by an 
increased or diminished response to stimulation, the 
harmony of the complicated act of writing is interfered 
with, concord is converted into discord, more or less 
marked, and that which had become a purely automatic 
act by dint of years of study, relapses again into an act 
which requires a greater or less amount of attention." 



On page 117 a passing reference has been made to the 
only practicable style of writing in Ambidextral training, 
whether the hands are working singly or together. And 
it is there assumed and asserted that vertical or upright 
writing alone lends itself to this two-handed exercise. 
Any slope of the letters, whether forward or backward, 
cannot be equally suitable for each hand. This is imme- 
diately evident. But the vertical style is precisely the 
same, optically and physiologically, whether produced 
by the right hand or by the left hand, as any one will find 
by sitting down with a pen or pencil in each hand and 
drawing a few perfectly upright straight strokes with 
each hand separately, and then with both hands together. 

Now, since the crux of the whole question, and the 
result of the entire controversy, hinges on the subject of 
Ambidextral writing, it will not be out of place to conduct 
an investigation to determine, here and now, once for all, 
the superiority of upright penmanship from the Hygienic 
and the Calligraphic standpoints ; so that no uncertainty 
may remain in the mind of the reader ; and that he may 
be assured that the great consideration of " two-handed- 
ness " is not going to be promoted at the expense or 
sacrifice of a corresponding advantage in handwriting. 
Just the opposite ! Furthermore, it is honestly believed 
that the most unbelieving and incredulous will be con- 
vinced by the evidence about to be brought forward that, 
not only is Ambidextral Science in itself a priceless boon 
to the community, but that the blessings it brings in its 
train — vertical writing being one of the most important — 
are of equal and lasting worth. 

The author is aware that reference might be here made 
to such and such works where these advantages of vertical 
writing are fully set forth ; but it is deemed best to 
present in this place an outline of the whole argument, 
that this Manual may be complete in itself as a perfect 
and comprehensive demonstration of the Ambidextral 


First, then, as to the Hygienic value of upright pen- 
manship as opposed to the incalculably injurious effects 
of slanting writing in its manifold and hydra-headed 
destructiveness. Special attention is directed to the 
independent, authoritative, and unanimous character of 
the evidence. 

I. Writing in relation to the Spine. 

Mr. Noble Smith, F.R.C.S. (Senior Surgeon, City 
Orthopaedic Hospital, London), says, in the fourth edition 
of his well-known work on " Spinal Curvature " : — " The 
twisted and curved position of the spine, caused by 
writing, is doubtless a very potent factor in the production 
of lateral curvature. The more slanting the writing the 
worse the position, and I would emphatically advise that 
upright be universally substituted for slanting writing " 
(p. 78). " The posture necessitated by ordinary writing is 
probably that which causes more harm to the spine than 
any other, but the system of upright writing so ably 
advocated by Mr. Jackson is calculated to reduce this 
harm to a minimum. I take the opportunity of advising 
the reader to obtain Mr. Jackson's publications upon this 
system of upright writing, with which I have become 
acquainted only since urging the advantages of substi- 
tuting upright for slanting writing in the second edition 
of this book" (pp. 117 and 118). 

Again, this gentleman writes, under date May i6th, 
i88g, as follows : — " In answer to your letter of May 12th, 
I write to say that since I first published some remarks 
upon the influence of slanting writing in the production of 
lateral curvature of the spine, in 1884, I have had no 
reason to alter my views. It is impossible for any pupil 
to write freely in a slanting manner without placing the 
spine in a crooked position, and in exactly the position 
which is most common in spinal curvature. Many a case 
of weak back could be easily cured were it not for the 



effect of the frequent assumption of this one particular 
position. I have known a patient suffering from lateral 
curvature of the spine, who has been making rapid strides 
towards recovery, immediately relapse upon a resumption 
of school work, — such work involving a large amount of 
writing; and I have clearly traced the worst 


Mr. J. Jackson Clarke, M.B. London, F.R.C.S. 
(Surgeon to the North-West London and City Orthopaedic 
Hospitals), in his paper read at the British Medical Asso- 
ciation Meeting, Ipswich, in August, igoo, observes : — 
"It is now well recognized that the great majority of cases 
of scoliosis arise from faulty attitudes adopted by school 
children during writing. Tilting of the pelvis is not a 
necessary, or even a very common, precursor of lateral 
curvature. ... We must remember that for one case in 
which the deformity arises in this way, I believe there 
are fifty in which it arises from faulty writing postures." 
" British Medical Journal," September ist, igoo. 

Mr. Bernard Roth, F.R.C.S., in his " Lateral Curvature 
of the Spine," — with an Appendix containing details of 
1,000 cases, — second edition, i8gg, has the following 
remarks: — "The position of writing, as generally 
practised, is more frequently than anything else 
an initial cause in most cases of lateral and other cur- 
vatures not due to diseased bone or infantile paralysis. 
This vicious posture during writing is due to the unfor- 
tunate custom of teaching a slanting writing, from left 
to right upwards obliquely. It is essential that not only 
the trunk, but also the arms, should remain perfectly 
symmetrical " (pp. 3, 4). 

Mr. R. Liebrich, F.R.C.S. (late Consulting Ophthalmic 
Surgeon to St. Thomas's Hospital, London), asserts 
that : — " All authors agree in thinking that bad posture is 
the chief reason of this affection " (lateral curvature of the 
spine), " the abnormal posture of the children, especially 

Twisted position required and taught Natural position required and taught 

in Sloping Writing (back view). in Vertical Writing (back view). 

Fig. 16. 

Page 214 


when writing, being the real cause of the evil " ; that " the 
frequency of the so-called scoliosis or lateral curvature of 
the spine has its principal origin in the position in which 
the children sit during their school time, especially when 
writing"; and that "Lord Palmerston had asked the 
Government that the Italian handwriting might be dis- 
continued in favour of the upright system. It is not easy 
to write the sloping handwriting in a hygienic position." 

Dr. Eulenberg says that go per cent, of curvatures of 
the spine, not induced by local disease, are developed 
during school life. In one school, among 381 girls, 156 
were found to have more or less deviation of the spinal 
column. These were sloping writers. 

Dr. Schenk, in his " Aetiology of Scoliose," Berlin, 
informs us, that having examined and measured 200 
children who wrote the sloping style, he found 160 of 
them to be more or less affected with pronounced 
curvature of the spine. 

Dr. Gross, Stuttgart, declares that the children's 
vicious attitudes are essentially the consequence of the 
unnatural sloping writing. 

Professor A. Lorenz, Orthopaedist, and Dr. Gouber, 
Commissioner of Health, in a combined report, assert 
that : — " Quite apart from all other advantages, the 
absolute superiority of this method of writing " (the 
vertical) " over other methods must be admitted," and 
conclude as follows : — " Vertical writing is very much to 
be preferred, from the Orthopaedic point of view, to 
oblique writing ; and has been recommended for a long 
time by many Orthopaedic surgeons in private practice, 
with the best results for rendering the writing position 
a healthy one." And the following eminent Ortho- 
paedists : — 

Mr. W. Adams, F.R.C.S., " Lateral Curvature of the 
Spine," 1882. 

Mr. R. Barwell, F.R.C.S., "Causes and Treatment of 
Lateral Curvature," 1895. 



Mr. B. E. Broadhurst, F.R.C.S., "Curvatures and 
Diseases of the Spine," 1888. 

Mr. J. J. Clarke, F.R.C.S., " Orthopaedic Surgery," 

Dr. Percy G. Lewis, " Relief and Cure of Spinal 
Curvature," 1898. 

Dr. M. Roth, " Spinal Deformities and Lateral 
Curvature," 1887. 

Mr. A. H. Tubby, F.R.C.S., " Deformities, a Treatise 
on Orthopaedic Surgery," 1896. 

And many others, although they have not made a 
special study of the writing-posture question, refer to, and 
condemn in similar terms, these slanting-writing attitudes 
as follow : — 

"The sitting position during education, specially for 

" The curve caused by the writing position." 
" Particularly fruitful of deformity are the faulty 
positions assumed during writing." 
" The vicious writing posture." 

" The very absurd position they are forced to assume 
in learning to write the Italian hand," &c., &c. 

2, Writing in relation to the Eyes. 

Mr. Simeon Snell, F.R.C.S., in his able treatise on 
" Eyesight and School Life," observes : — " I am satisfied 
that for the objects one has in view of obviating sight 
failure, the upright is to be preferred to the slanting 
method. From an oculist's point of view there are 
distinct advantages in the vertical method of writing. 
The eyes are directed straight to the copy, whilst in the 
sloping method there is a great tendency to assume a 
slanting look with the eyes." 

Dr. Hermann Cohn, of Breslau, says, in his notable 
work on " The Hygiene of the Eyes " : — " I abide by the 
opinion I expressed ten years ago, ' Undoubtedly 

[ [Uneven position of the eyes in Sloping Writing (from Bayr). 

Fig. 17. 

Natural position of the eyes in Vertical Writing (from Bayr). 

Fig. 18. 

Page 216 



No one, speaking from the physician's point of view, has 
declared himself against this writing." 

Professor Dr. P. Schubert, Oculist and Specialist, of 
Nurnberg, Drs. Schmeller, Hahnel, Berlin, Florschut^, 
Remboldt, Schmidt-Rimpler, Segget, Emmet and others, 
who examined no less than 21,949 children, found that 
sloping writing caused the head to hang down on one side, 
giving an uneven view of the writing, and producing, in 
hundreds of cases. Myopia and weak sight. 

Professor Dr. A. von Reuss (Professor of Ophthalmology, 
the University, Vienna), in his report to the council, 
concludes with these words: — "It is therefore strongly 
recommended that the Imperial and Royal Supreme 
Council of Health would support to the utmost the 
endeavours towards a general adoption of vertical 

3. Writing in relation to the General Health. 

In the discussion that followed a lecture by Dr. 
Liebrich, the chairman, W. B. Richardson, M.D., F.R.S., 
remarked that "The mischief did not rest at the- spinal 
column, it went far deeper." He saw " The daily results 
extending to the lung itself. So soon as the condition 
shown was set up, there was a modification of the 
process of breathing — a want of elasticity — and the 
results, congestion of the lung, the reducing of the 
quantity of the blood, liability to take cold on the slightest 
occasion, and the development of phthisis. We get, with 
the impaired health, impaired digestion, dyspepsia, and 
that feebleness which arises from it, and which marks so 
many schoolrooms. The effects of the way of sitting in 
schools cannot be shaken off, for people grow up and 
become fixed in them." He had " seen diseases hastened 
and increased by the pressure of sitting in the position 
which use had made natural." 



The Ninth International Congress of Hygiene and 
Demography, London, 1901, passed the following 
resolution after two papers and a discussion, in which 
every speaker, including Prof. Gladstone, declared in 
favour of vertical writing : — " That as the hygienic 
advantages of vertical writing have been clearly demon- 
strated and established, both by medical investigation and 
by practical experiment, and that, as by its adoption the 
injurious postures so productive of spinal curvature 
and short sight are to a very great extent avoided, it 


This consensus of medical talent, then, agrees in 
condemning sloping writing — either in itself or in its 
immediate and inseparable effects — as abnormal, faulty, 
harmful, injurious, absurd, mischievous, and vicious, whilst 
it recommends the adoption of vertical writing as being 
free from all such undesirable influences and baleful 

The hygienic value, then, of vertical writing may be 
considered as proved. 

4. Writing in relation to Legibility. 

That upright penmanship is extremely legible, that it is 
the most legible form of writing possible, and that it is far 
and away more legible than any kind of sloping wTiting, 
are facts that no rational person nowadays dares to 
dispute. Roman type is more readable than italics, or 
we should have our literature printed in the slanting 
letter. It does not require argument to prove this almost 
axiomatic truth, but we give one or two illustrations that 
will speak conclusively, and also reproduce the testimony 
of some who have tested the question for themselves. 

Legibility, it must not be forgotten, is the primar}' 
essential of good writing, and if so, the most cursory 




Fig. 19. 

Page 218 

All the corresponding strokes are as nearly equal in length as the 
curvature and varying slopes of the letters will permit. 

Fig. 20. 

Page 219 


glance at the diagrams should satisfy the most incredulous 
that VERTICALITY is necessarily the maximum of plainness 
and readableness. 

In fig. ig there are five rows of right lines, eleven in 
each row. What is the idea conveyed by them ? 

Is it not that the lines in the lowest rank are shorter 
than the others, that they are thicker than the others, and 
that they are drawn closer together ? Does it not seem 
as if the lines grow longer, thinner, and wider apart as we 
travel upwards, i.e. that the lines in the top row, for 
example, are drawn from base-points farther apart ? 
These are optical delusions caused by the slope of the 
strokes, as all of the lines, in the large sheet from which 
the diagram was photographed, were drawn of exactly 
equal length and thickness, and from base-points exactly 
equidistant from each other. Let the reader fix his 
eyes on either of the two figures 19, 20, and, gradually 
retiring therefrom, let him note the striking difference 
between the upright strokes and the sloping strokes 
in clearness and legibility. This optical test is unanswer- 
able and final. 

Only one authority shall be quoted, but the testimony 
is typical of what can be called universal experience. 

Mr. Hodgson, H.M.I., New Zealand, reports as follows 
in the Blue Book : — " Nearly as legible as print. As an 
examiner, part of whose duty it has been to read rapidly 
thousands of schoolboy papers, I feel entitled to speak 
with confidence as to the relief to overtaxed eyesight 
afforded by the new style of vertical writing." 

5. Writing in relation to Speed. 

Vertical writing is the most rapid style of penman- 
ship possible, and certainly more quickly executed than 
any form of slanting writing can be under the same 
CONDITIONS. Here again we have two witnesses — actual 
measurement and actual experiment. 


trained eye can accurately determine and much less 
constantly maintain ? Experience supplies the answer, 
and we have the admission from many opponents of the 
upright hand to that effect. 

A well-known professor of penmanship in the United 
States of America remarks in an elaborate essay : — " I 
have observed one thing in teaching children in the first 
grade to write, they naturally want to write the 
VERTICAL HAND ; it has been my observation that you 
have to teach a Child Slant." Slope is the 
UNKNOWN QUANTITY in handwriting, the mysterious x oi a. 
very perplexing problem to which every pupil finds his 
own independent solution. Indeed every teacher of slant- 
ing writing knows that the bugbear of this oblique pen- 
manship is the impossibility of attaining this much-to-be- 
desired regularity of slope ; in fact it is never secured, and 
teachers weary themselves all through their lives to 
obtain it. 

That vertical writing is easier and more natural for 
the ordinary penman than any sort of slanting calligraphy 
has been clearly shown in the section treating on 

7. Writing in relation to Economy, etc. 

Sloping writing is an extravagant style to adopt. It 
sprawls all along the lines in the most wasteful manner ; 
whereas vertical writing is compact, and economical to 
an extreme. Since upright penmanship can be written 
so much more quickly than sloping, it saves time ; and as 
it is written more closely together it saves space and 
paper ; therefore it saves ink, and, what is more valuable, 
labour or muscular effort. We need hardly in this place 
refer at large to the pedagogical advantages of the upright 
style. That they are many and great goes without say- 
ing ; and those interested in the question will find the 
whole argument fully discussed in "The Theory and 
Practice of Handwriting," fourth edition. 



Generally, then, and finally, it may be taken for 
granted : — 

1. That vertical writing avoids all the serious and un- 
healthy conditions and consequences inseparable from 
every form of slanting writing, and that it is the only safe 
and hygienic style of writing available. 

2. That it is indefinitely more legible than oblique 

3. That it is far more rapidly executed than slanting 

4. That it is the only natural style of writing. 

5. That it is much more easily taught, learned, and 
produced than slanting styles. 

6. That it is most economical and time-saving, and 

7. That in a pedagogical sense it possesses many and 
great advantages utterly unattainable by any sort of 
sloping writing. 

As a note to the above argument, it may be added that 
the accumulated evidence from many hundreds of school- 
inspectors and teachers, spontaneously offered, over a 
period of some fifteen to twenty years, unanimously 
corroborates each of the above seven points, as illustrated 
in the uniform results of their own observation and 
practice with children of both sexes, both colours, and in 
every grade of school. 

After this long, but relevant, digression on vertical 
writing, we resume the subject of Bimanual Instruction. 
In doing so, we advocate the greatest thoroughness and 
enthusiasm in the teaching of simultaneous two-handed 
writing. Once let our children be able to write equally 
well and rapidly with both hands, separately and con- 
currently, and Ambidexterity in its best sense is practi- 
cally secured. "When properly conducted, the writing hour 
will be the most interesting and attractive of the whole 
day, and moreover it will be most fertile in results. Such 
opportunities are afforded for artistic skill, calligraphic 


dexterity, competitive exercises, psychological experi- 
ments, dual developments, and absolutely novel exhibi- 
tions of mental and manual powers, that both scholars 
and teachers alike will enjoy the intellectual treat. The 
continual and surprising discoveries of new faculties will 
be a wonderful incentive to still greater efforts ; and when 
or where the limit of these latent possibilities will be 
reached it is impossible to say. 

In all the writing classes, and in all the lessons where 
writing forms part of the class work, there must be, from 
THE VERY FIRST, the most impartial employment and 
encouragement of both hands ; and of both hands 
SIMULTANEOUSLY whenever copy-books are being used. 
The system pursued must be so perfect that the pupils 
shall become saturated with the conviction that the two 
hands are co-equal in every respect, and are expected to 
take an equal share in all the duties and functions of 
their busy lives. Once let our boys and girls survey 
their hands in the same way as they look upon their 
eyes, ears, and feet — so far as identity of powers and 
responsibilities goes — and the results will be of the 
happiest kind. 

We crave forgiveness for the frequent repetition of this 
urgency and necessity; because our scheme is such an 
entire reversal of all that has hitherto prevailed in the 
arena of school life, that the danger of only half measures 
is both great and imminent. As will be admitted, there 
is the widest gulf between an unqualified distinction and 
differentiation — as now obtaining — and the total absence 
of that distinction ; between the total neglect of the left 
hand and the most solicitous culture of it as here recom- 

It is necessary, then, that both hands should be 
started on the calligraphic campaign simultaneously 
FROM THE FIRST LESSON, beginning of course with the 
right line, vertically and obliquely in both directions. The 
circle, and the oval will follow as demanded. 



Where grooved tablets are not used it will be better to 
have chalk with pasteboards, to be supplemented by class 
practice on the blackboard. After the infants have 
mastered the "similar motion" exercises, the "contrary 
motion " element may be introduced into each of the 
initial outlines in order from the straight stroke to the 
oval ; the same principles being continued through the 
whole of the alphabetical forms. The teacher, keeping 
the one object ever in view, viz, the acquirement by the 
pupils of "absolute independency" of action with the 
two hands when working together — will not fail to supply 
his classes with a profusion of combinations of letters and 
figures to be written coincidently. These exercises will 
possibly at the outset create no little diversion amongst 
the tiny scribes, but after the novelty has worn off, every 
shade of difficulty to acquire the independency of action 
will vanish, and it will be found that Ambidextrous 
simultaneous employment of the hands is considered 
quite natural, ordinary and proper. A complete graduated 
series of copy-books for instruction and practice in 
simultaneous two-handed writing has been compiled, 
wherein the methodical blending of similar and dis- 
similar forms is introduced in the first number and 
maintained to the last. A few typical examples of such 
headlines are here supplied (fig. 22). 

The next stage introduces the writing of words, begin- 
ning with the shortest possible combinations. It will 
not be found difficult for the scholars to accomplish the 
simultaneous writing of such words as " it," " in," " on," 
and the like ; nor will longer words be found less easy to 
trace as they come along. Naturally, in every case of a 
new idea being given, the pupils will write at first the 
same word simultaneously, before writing different words. 

Interspersed with copy-book and black-board practice 
there should be supplementary exercises in blindfold 
writing, in the first case of the same matter, and lastly of 
different wording. The pupils should be encouraged in 


the effort to see their work mentally, this will develop 
the power of visualization and greatly further the object 
of the teacher. 

Accompanying this there will likewise be promiscuous 
exercises — graded in difficulty, of course — in simultaneous 
writing of dissimilar memory matter, and in the execution 
of different kinds of work, as writing a well-known verse 
or line with one hand and producing a row of figures with 
the other. Then easy examples of writing and drawing 
(concurrently) may be introduced, culminating finally in 
the writing of two different compositions at the same 
time, say two disconnected letters to two different people, 
as in figs. 13 and 14. 

Common sense and parity of reasoning, as we have 
before observed, will show how easy it will be to turn out 
children just as capable of writing simultaneously two 
pieces of dissimilar penmanship as it is to teach pupils to 
play two different staves of music at the same time ; but 
more, we maintain that by the method herein set forth 
the calligraphic scholars will far exceed in executive 
ability their musical rivals (i.e. according to present 

The grand result, therefore, of such a scheme of 
calligraphic Ambidextral Culture will undoubtedly be, 
to so train our school-children that they shall become 
adepts in simultaneous bimanual work (not only in 
penmanship, but in every occupation that they can 
undertake), that each hand shall be absolutely inde- 
pendent of the other in the production of any kind of 
WORK whatever ; that, if required, one hand shall be 
writing an original letter, and the other hand shall be 
playing the piano ; one hand shall be engaged in writing 
phonography, and the other in making a pen-and-ink 
sketch, and this, be it remembered, with no diminution in 
the power of concentration when only one hand may be 
employed and one act demand the combined attention 
and energies of the two brain hemispheres. 




There are at the present time (1904) so many text- 
books on Bimanual Art and Bimanual Training in Draw- 
ing, that the most modest contribution to the subject in 
this work might well be deemed a superfluity. As, how- 
ever, the intention of the author in this place is so utterly 
different from that of the writers aforesaid, he feels more 
than justified in devoting some little time and care to its 

Professor Tadd, in his " New Methods in Education " 
and Mr. Lydon in his school manuals, may be referred to 
as types — and to these gentlemen the author's indebted- 
ness is here acknowledged. But it will be found that 
Ambidexterity in those productions is made the handmaid 
of art ; whereas in the pages now before the reader, art, 
drawing, writing, and every other manual occupation are 
made the handmaids of Ambidexterity. Not that we do 
not devoutly hope that all our children and students may 
become pre-eminent in each and every handicraft and 
profession they may respectively adopt — that goes without 
saying — but still more do we desire that all our pupils 
shall become, in the strictest sense of the word, as two- 
handed in skill as they are in structure ; for then — and 
NOT TILL THEN — Can they become, in the highest degree, 
proficient in every department of handiwork. 

Speaking generally, drawing has not hitherto been 
taught in the United Kingdom, copying has. The charge 
brought by Professor Tadd against the so-called art- 


training " hitherto obtaining in Great Britain is unfortu- 
nately too true ; and we are also very much inclined to 
go the whole way with him in his denunciation of the 
extravagant claims that are " made for Sloyd, and several 
similar narrow mechanical methods." From observation 
and experiment, he found that " not more than 4 per cent, 
of the drawing teachers, who were tested, could draw — I 
mean draw as a mode of expression, delineate what they 
thought — I found only eight cases, out of several hundred, 
that had facility of hand — I mean the kind of elementary 
facility required in this book from children, . . . Almost 
invariably there was absence of proficiency in organic 
drawing, and, considering the time they had given to the 
work, their imitation drawing was feeble beyond the 
power of words to express." 

The Professor does not so much censure the teachers, 
for he goes on to say — and we think with great apposite- 
ness and force : — " I am inclined to lay more blame upon 
the inventors of certain systems, who are never artists, 
who are backed by publishing firms, and whose chief idea 

is to sell books and materials Some of the 

systems claim that their books and materials do away 
with the necessity of the teachers being able to draw, 
and that instruction can be imparted in an easy and 
ready fashion by means of these equipments. And so the 
game goes on at the expense of the children ! " 

Surely if our English art teachers resemble their 
cousins across the water (for the above remarks apply 
directly only to Americans), there is abundant reason for 
a general quickening among the dry bones. Doubtless 
there is, even in England, great need and ample room for 
improvement in art teaching with special reference to 
drawing ; but we are of opinion that the turn of the tide 
has come, and the next few years will witness a complete 
revolution in our system of education in art. Ambi- 
dextral DEVELOPMENT will be the secret of this 



This chapter is not intended to be an exhaustive 
manual of art training ; nor is its object to supply a 
complete scheme of drawing lessons or an equally com- 
prehensive series of drawing copies ; but it is purposed 
to clearly set forth more particularly that Ambidextral 
drawing and art are the only real true artistic education 
on the one hand, and to indicate how this artistic two- 
handed skill may best be attained on the other. 

Tadd says that " Drawing should be used as modes 
of thought expression quite as often and as much as 
speech and writing ; for while pupils gain accuracy of 
perception, they also gain facility of expression, the terms 

The Professor is an enthusiast who indulges rather 
freely in exaggerated ideas and language. It is undoubtedly 
essential that drawing should be employed along with 
speech and writing in the expression of thought ; and it 
is exactly on this crux that the difference between an 
artist and a copyist comes in. The manual training, 
then, that should be imparted, is that which aims at tlie 
highest development of the individual : cultivating and 
perfecting, as Mr. Tadd has it : — 

1. The art of building ideas by using most of the 
channels of expression and most of the means of ex- 

2. Accurate perceptive powers. 

3. Facility of expression, not only in writing and 
verbally, but in a variety of ways through the hands. 

4. Strengthening of thought fabric and mind structure, 
and capacity to use the same. 

5. Most skill in the shortest space of time. 

6. Fitness for the greatest number of fundamental 
operations or pursuits. 

With reference to the first of these essentials, the means 
of expression have hitherto, in the departments of both 
art and labour, been confined, as far as possible, to one 
hand, and that the right hand, as we know from common 


experience ; but Mr. Tadd recognizes the secret of all 
true expression work when he allocates to the left hand, 
as he does all through his school course, an equal 
responsibility, and an equal share in the education. 

Art, in the branches of drawing and manual training, 
are really "modes of getting ideas first hand, and giving 
ideas " first hand ; " — shall we add, they are the best 
modes also ? They effect the most perfect " union of 
thought and action," and they constitute the only 
complete preparation for the real work of life, — and as 
the enthusiastic Hailman observes, they " render lucid 
the latent spiritualities of matter, and enhance the 
utilities of life by clothing them with beauty." 

Generally, the methods to be followed in an art course 
are " ambidexterity, psycho-physical co-ordinations, 
AND MEMORY WORK," together with many subsidiary 

We will take the first of these, and hear what our 
exponent of bidextral art and manual work has to say 
after his twelve years' teaching of it in the large 
Philadelphian school : — 

" Improvement is also made in other directions. The 
co-ordinating of one set of muscles invariably influences 
the rest. The hands, the eyes and the mind are exercised 
to a much greater degree than is possible when using 
them only partially, hence a more symmetrical whole is 
produced. . . . 

" A little thought makes one realize that in many trades, 
especially the ones requiring skill of hand, both hands 
need to be used; and the more skilled the left 
hand, the better the workman. . . . 

" If I work with my right hand, I use the left side of the 
brain ; if I employ the left hand, I use the right side of the 
brain. In truth, I exercise some special region or centre 
of the brain in every conscious movement I make ; and in 
every change of movement I bring into play some other 
centre. If, by performing any such action with energy 



and precision, I aid in the development of the accordant 
centre, I am improving the cerebral organism, and 
building for myself a better and more symmetrical 

" Muscular co-ordinations, and facility with the left hand 
as well as the right, are therefore very important, and of 
large application, apart from the physiological and mental 
value of Ambidexterity. Surely, then, the new education 
must not make the mistake of training but one hand, one 
only of these two instruments of power and action. 

" ' Every impression of sense upon the brain, every 
current of molecular activity from one to another part of 
the brain, every cerebral reaction which passes into 
muscular movement, leaves behind it some modification of 
the nerve elements concerned in its function, some after- 
effect, or, so to speak, memory of itself in them which 
renders its reproduction an easier matter ; the more 
easy the oftener it has been repeated, and makes it im- 
possible to say that, however trivial, it shall not under 
some circumstances recur. Let the excitation take place 
in one of two nerve-cells lying side by side, and between 
which there was not any original specific difference ; 
there will be ever afterward a difference between them. 
This physiological process, whatever be its nature, is the 
physical basis of memory, and it is the foundation 
OF the development of all our mental functions.' " 

Meissonier had very exalted notions of the value of 
drawing as one of the bases of primary education, and he 
exclaims : — " To what heights might their intelligences 
be trained by simply teaching them to see ! I would 
have drawing made the basis of education in all 
schools. It is the only language that can express all 
things " (!) " An outline, even if ill-shaped, conveys a 
more exact idea of a thing than the most harmonious 
sentences in the world. Drawing is absolute truth, and 
the language of truth should be taught everywhere ! " 


This panegyric we will not disturb by criticism. There 
is so much of truth in its sentiments that the little excess 
of enthusiasm may be condoned. Sir Charles Bell's 
pronouncement, however, we can unhesitatingly endorse 
where he affirms that " The great source of happiness is to 
be found in the exercise of our talents, and perhaps the 
greatest of all is when the ingenuity of the mind is 
exercised in the dexterous employment of the hands." 

Throughout the drawing course, blackboard free-arm 
work must accompany pencil and hand work ; and simul- 
taneous exercises must form no inconsiderable part of the 
pupil's training. It is of the highest moment that 


Drill forms should be carefully graduated from the 
introductory circle (in all sizes) up to the more difficult 
ellipses, double curves, spirals, leaves and other forms. 
These will constitute an inseparable adjunct to nature- 
sketching, which likewise begins with the simplest objects. 
A suggestive series of elementary units or outlines is here 

The great value of drill-forms is to create and secure an 
automatic accuracy and freedom without which no real 
success in drawing can be assured. It is an essential 
that we draw every required outline and design mechanic- 
ally, as it is that we write mechanically, as it is that we 
walk mechanically ; and surely these two latter move- 
ments are never perfect until they are absolutely auto- 
matic. It is then, and only then, that the creative 
faculty and the imitative faculty can be exercised with 
any hope of a perfect result. Automaticism is the 


WRITING AND WALKING ! ! Mr. Tadd insists upon this 
where he remarks : — " The different movements must be 
practised till they are drawn with as little effort, and as 
unconsciously, as are the letters of the alphabet. No 
special talent or genius is necessary in order to be able 



to write well. The same is true of drawing in the mere 
acquisition of the mechanical part of the work. Talent 
and genius are required for the higher grades of design 
and creative work, just as talent and genius are required 
to express great thoughts in written words. Especial 
care must be given to the left hand, owing to the lack 
of its use with the majority of people. But with the 
young the left hand can be made to work with as much 
freedom as the right, and I see no reason why any of us 
should not have as much control and power over the left 
hand as we have over the right." 

But these drill forms do more than merely produce 
automatic accuracy and freedom of action. They secure 


independence of movement in the two hands ; a faculty 
which is lost sight of by most and possessed by few, but 
which may easily become the property of every one ! 

Naturally these forms must insure dissimilar, equally 
with similar, movements of the two hands simultaneously; 
for the secret of all independence lies in the unrelated 
character of the concurrent exercises that are practised 
and persevered in. 

Pupils should be encouraged from the beginning to 
practise original drawing or designing ; for, first, there is 
no child so dull or bereft of power in this respect as to be 
unable to produce something that shall have a tinge of 
originality about it ; and, second, there is no part of the 
course that will afford more pleasure to the children with 
an equal amount of benefit. 

Those readers who wish to follow this subject in its 
several departments of designing, wood-carving, and clay- 
modelling in all grades and ramifications, are referred 
to Mr. Tadd's book, where the whole matter is fully 
elaborated. The manual is profusely illustrated with 
most helpful and appropriate diagrams, and reproduc- 
tions of photographs of pupils actually at work in ever}^ 
stage of the course. However strongly the reader may 


differ with Mr. Tadd in some respects, a perusal of 
his methods and an acquaintance with his principles 
cannot but prove both interesting and profitable. 

Memory-drawing will be found of great assistance 
in the development of the child ; in fact it is one of the 
most useful of our appliances for expanding the mind and 
imparting artistic ability. This method should not be 
confined to life forms, but must include simple figures, 
conventionalized forms, and original designs ; so the 
faculty of VISUALIZATION will be created, fostered, and 
perfected, that is, so far as the powers of each pupil 
respectively will permit. 

We have now indicated, very superficially, it is true, but 
we hope with sufficient definiteness, the general character 
and trend of Ambidextral art-teaching in schools, with 
respect to the particular subject of drawing From the 
art-teacher's point of view, his object is to produce living 
artists : from the educationalist's point of view the object 
is to make living men ! If it be a matter of grave import 
to accomplish the former, how much more necessary is it 
to achieve the latter ? This art-culture is but a small part 
of the general scheme of education that shall secure the 
highest percentage of perfectly developed, organized, and 
intelligent youth, ready and fully qualified to take its 
part in the several domains of life's industry. Let the 
principles just enunciated be faithfully carried out in this 
and every other branch of the school curriculum, and 
both of these essential objects will be reached ; the art- 
teacher will get his artist, and the educationalist will as 
assuredly get his man ; the one an able and truthful 
delineator of nature, the other an adolescent microcosm. 

We cannot refrain, in closing, from repeating that in 
each stage of this art-study there must be no preferential 
use of either hand. Maximum results can only be got by 
PERFECT handicraft OR TWO-HANDEDNESS, and it is most 
encouraging to know that this ambidextral element is so 
rapidly coming to the front and being recognized as the 



one great guarantee of success. It is even still more 
gratifying to learn that in every case the cultivation of the 
two hands has been followed by the most surprising 
quickening of the entire personality of the children. 

The examples of left-hand drawing here supplied are, 
we take it, unanswerable proofs of the value of Ambi- 
dextral Culture, for they have been produced under 
peculiarly disadvantageous conditions. (Figs. 23 and 24.) 

The pupils have not had the advantage of any compre- 
hensive scheme of bimanual training; they have been 
subject to all the influences and restrictions of a unidextral 
environment ; and they have not even been taught ambi- 
dextral art from their earliest years ; — a year or two, at 
the most three, of left-handed practice in drawing being 
the sum total of their two-handed education. 

And yet the work is practically equal to any- 

Surely every one will admit that this is a conclusive 
demonstration of sinistral skill and of the incalculable 
advantages of Ambidexterity ! 

First Year of Left-hand Drawing. 

Age of pupil, sixteen years 
Fig- 23. 

Left-hand Drawing. 

Age of pupi], fourteen years 

Fig. 24. 

Page 234 




If Ambidexterity were intended merely to add zest to 
school work, to enhance the value of education, to shorten 
the period of school life — i.e. if the advantages of a 
general training in two-handedness were thus limited to 
the educational arena — it would more than justify its 
adoption, and repay handsomely any small amount of 
extra effort that had been expended in its promotion and 
consummation. Fortunately, more than this is the case. 
The benefits accruing from our proposed innovation are 
indeed only to be found developed in all their maturity 
and importance outside the school, and amid the 
multifarious occupations and walks of after-life ; in fact, 
amongst the professions, arts, trades, and handicrafts 
that give employment to the great mass of the people — 
to the muscles and sinews of the nation. Of the five 
HUNDRED (and there are many others not there 
enumerated) occupations and pastimes tabulated on 
pages 239-242, there is scarcely one in which a perfect 
Ambidexterity would not be a distinct help and advantage; 
whilst in some 85 to go per cent, the faculty would prove 
of the utmost service, beneficial alike to the worker and 
the work. In a considerable number of these crafts, 
two-handedness is absolutely essential, and has always 
been part and parcel of the function itself, which, it may 
safely be said, could not exist apart from this inseparable 
property. Roughly speaking, there are not less than 


thirty employments in which — as in the typical case 
of piano-playing — actual and equal two-handedness is 
practised of necessity ; there are about 400 in which 
a perfect two-handedness would insure a wonderful 
superiority ; and in the remaining few, only 10 per 
cent, of the whole, at the outside, an expert left hand 
would supply sensible relief and comfort. 

The oftener one reads over this list of trades, &c., the 
more forcibly one is impressed with the desirability of 
expediting the reign of a universal two-handedness ; for 
the loss to the nation (the physical loss, the mental loss, 
the financial loss, the loss in prestige, in time, and even 
in moral strength) is calamitous in extent, and is indeed 
irreparable. The waste in brain matter and in brain 
culture especially is lamentable to a degree, and who can 
tell how many Solomons, Bacons, Elizabeths, and other 
great intellects, are being lost in every generation ? That 
co-ordinated brain culture, fostered and perfected by 
two-handed dexterity and development, would materially 
raise the standards of physical and intellectual excellence, 
there is little, if any reason, to doubt ; and all these 
related blessings and benefits would be insured without 
the drawback of a single known disadvantage. 

If we direct our attention, for example, to any particular 
class or kind of handicraft, and ascertain to what extent 
two-handedness is a benefit, we shall be surprisingly 
gratified. Take one of the minor trades — the carpet 
industry — as a specimen. 

We have here carpet-weavers, carpet-sewers, and 
carpet-layers. In each of these departments two-handed- 
ness would mean, not only much greater efficiency, and 
consequently, superior workmanship, but the greater boon 
of a wonderful diminution in the ph3^sical ills which are 
inseparable from the one-handed worker, such as carpet- 
sewers' cramp, from which so many unfortunate victims 


Once more, in the hundred-and-one occupations of the 
file, cutlery, and hardware industry, those only who 
are acquainted with the demands made upon human 
endurance, and with the great proportion of workers who 
succumb to the strain of one-handed labour in file-cutting, 
knife-grinding, riveting, &c., &c., ad infinitum, can ap- 
preciate the inestimable value of such an innovation as 
this scheme contemplates, and the relief it proposes 
to bring to overstrained muscles, aching backs, and 
exhausted brains. "One-handed labour in file-cutting," 
means, of course, the continual unchanged use of the 
hammer by the one right (or dextral) hand, and the total 
absence of alternate use in the tools that necessarily 
engage both hands simultaneously during the execution 
of the work in that, or any other, occupation. 

Ambidexterity will be, to countless thousands of our 
artizans, a perfect Godsend, that nothing else can pro- 
vide and that nothing else can approach unto. So, we 
shall get better work and better workmen, longer and 
stronger lives, improved health, and therewith brighter 
and happier homes than can be obtained under existing 

Universal two-handedness is the leaven that will per- 
meate every home and every section of the community; 
that will shed its beneficent rays upon and extend its 
priceless privileges to every class, to every individual, and 
to every interest of humanity. It must be so, it cannot 
be otherwise, else physiology, hygiene, logic, nature, 
common sense, and unanimous experience are alike 
misleading and unreliable. 

It seems a pity that people should be so utterly 
apathetic on the subject, even where their most vital 
interests are involved; and it is equally a matter of 
regret that the inertia of this apathy is well nigh irre- 
sistible and insurmountable. Of course, the public is so 
used to new inventions, marvellous discoveries, wonder- 



ful schemes, and innumerable nostrums — each and all 
capable of setting the Thames on fire, of abating every 
nuisance, relieving every grievance, removing every dis- 
ability, of righting every wrong, and indeed, of at once 
inaugurating a truly Millennium Age, in which everything 
will be as it ought to be — that they have grown callous 
to such pretensions and professions, and look with in- 
different or with suspicious eye upon any form of sug- 
gested reform in science, art, politics, social or domestic 
economy, and even in the realm of education. This is 
unfortunate for all concerned, but, nauseated as one may 
be with a wearisome succession of such pretentious 
specifics for the woes of mankind, it still behoves us not 
to recklessly consign to neglect every fresh remedy for 
one or other of the ills that afflict us, lest in our haste we 
cast from us as worthless a " pearl of great price " — a 
veritable good that might advantage the world at large. 
Wherefore the author is so anxious that every reader shall 
peruse the whole argument, that he may be qualified to 
form an adequate and just opinion of the merits of the 

If our employers of labour would only recognize the 
gain to their own pockets, they would not hesitate for 
one moment in demanding two-handed workmen, and in 
refusing to accept any who were not as dextrous with the 
one hand as with the other. It will come to this in the 
long run, and we feel assured that eventually — yes, in 
the very near future — Ambidextrous labour will assert its 
supremacy, and all our handicrafts will be truly two- 
handed, as indeed they ought to have been from the very 
beginning. The sooner this state of things is brought 
about the better for all concerned. 










Amber worker. 













Awl blade maker. 
Bag maker. 
Barrow maker. 
Basket maker. 
Bassoon player. 
Bell founder. 
Bell hanger. 
Bell rintjer. 
Bellows maker. 
Belt maker. 
Bentwood maker. 
Birdcage maker. 
Blind maker. 

Boiler maker. 

Bone setter. 



Bottle blower. 

Bottle cleaner. 




Box maker. 




Brass finisher. 




Brick maker. 

Broom maker. 

Brush maker. 




Button maker. 

Cabinet maker. 


Candle maker. 

Cane worker. 


Cardboard cutter. 



Carpet beater. 

Carpet weaver. 

Carriage ironer. 

Carriage trimmer. 



Cartridge maker. 






Chair maker. 





Chimney sweep. 

China riveter. 


Cigarette maker. 

Cigar maker. 

Circus rider. 

Clear starcher. 



Clock maker. 

Clog maker. 

Cloth weaver. 

Cloth worker. 

Coach maker. 

Coach smith. 

Coal trimmer. 

Colfin maker. 

Coiner. . 












Cork cutter. 

Cornet playing. 


Cotton spinner. 








Deck hand. 


Deer stalker. 





Diamond cutter. 

Die sinker. 












Drug grinder. 








Engine driver. 


Engine smith. 

Engine turner. 



Envelope maker. 



Fan maker. 



Feather dresser. 

Felt maker. 



File cutter. 


Fish curer. 




Flax dresser. 

Flax spinner. 



Frame maker. 

French polisher. 

Fret cutter. 

Fret worker. 




Gauge maker. 




Glass bender. 

Glass beveller. 

Glass blower. 

Glass cutter. 

Glass driller. 

Glass grinder. 



Glue maker. 


Gold blocker. 

Gold cutter. 

Gold digger. 






Granite cutter. 






Gun pohsher. 





Hair worker. 

Hair-pin maker. 


Harness maker. 







Hinge maker. 

Hop picker. 


Horse clipper. 


Horseshoe maker. 









Ivory turner. 


Jet worker. 







Jute spinner. 


Knife grinder. 


Lace cleaner. 

Lace maker. 



Ladder maker. 


Land surveyor. 



Lath splitter. 

Lath worker. 


Lawn tennis. 

Leather cutter. 


Lime burner. 

Linen weaver. 










Mantle maker. 






Match maker. 

Mat maker. 

Metal polisher. 

Metal worker. 






Mill hand. 




M inter. 


Model maker. 




Nail maker. 


Needle maker. 


Net maker. 



Oar maker. 






Organ blower. 

Organ builder. 

Organ grinder. 






Paper maker. 



Pattern maker. 



Pearl worker. 


Pen maker. 

Penholder maker. 


Photo colourer. 




Piano-key maker. 
Piano-pin maker. 
Piano tuner. 
Picture cleaner. 

Pill-box maker. 

Pin maker. 

Pipe maker. 

Plane maker. 




Portfolio maker. 



Print mounter. 


Pulley maker. 

Pump maker. 

Racket maker. 

Railway carriage 

Railway chair maker. 
Railway wagon 

Railway wheel maker. 
Razor grinder. 
Razor strop maker. 
Ribbon weaver. 
Rivet maker. 
Rope maker. 
Rug weaver. 
Rule maker. 
Rush weaver. 
Sack maker. 
Safe maker. 
Sail maker. 

Sanitary expert. 
Sash maker. 
Saw maker. 
Saw sharpener. 
Scale maker. 
Scene painter. 
Scissor grinder. 
Scissor maker. 
Screw maker. 
Scull maker. 

Shade maker. 
Ship joiner. 
Ship modeller. 
Ship rigger. 
Ship smith. 
Shirt dresser. 
Shirt maker. 

Shorthand writer. 
Shovel maker. 
Sign painter. 
Silk weaver. 
Silver beater. 
Slate cutter. 
Slate enameller. 


Spectacle maker. 
Splint cutter. 
Stamp cutter. 
Steel forger. 
Steel founder. 
Steel maker. 
Steel pen maker. 
Steel plate maker. 
Steel rail maker. 
Steel wire maker. 
Stencil cutter. 
Stool maker. 
Stove mounter. 
Straw plaiter. 
Sword cutler. 
Table maker. 

Tank builder. 





Telegraph worker. 

Telephone worker. 



Thread spinner. 
Ticket writer. 
Tile layer. 

Tin plate worker. 
Tire smith. 
Tool grinder. 




Toy maker. 
Trunk maker. 
Truss maker. 
Tube maker. 
Type founder. 
Umbrella maker. 
Valve maker. 
Veneer cutter. 
Veterinary surgeon. 
Vice maker. 

Watch-case maker. 
Wax modeller. 
Whip maker. 
Wicker worker. 
Wig maker. 
Window-blind maker. 
Window cleaner. 
Wire drawer. 
Wire nail maker. 
Wire netting maker. 

Wire rope maker. 
Wire worker. 
Wood carver. 
Wood engraver. 
Wood fencer. 
Wood turner. 
Wool comber. 
Worsted spinner. 
Yarn weaver. 
Zinc drawer. 
Zinc nail worker. 
Zinc plate maker. 
Zinc worker. 



Is the subject which has been so fully discussed in the 
preceding pages — the subject of a general and generally- 
taught Ambidexterity — of sufficient importance to the 
individual, to the several industries of our manufactures 
and commerce, to the navy and army, and to the com- 
munity at large, to justify interference by our Legislature ? 

Are the benefits derivable from, as w^ell as the disabili- 
ties and disadvantages prevented by, true two-handed- 
ness, numerous enough, valuable enough, and at the 
same time serious enough, to reasonably call for state aid 
to enforce it ? 

Can any one peruse Chapter VL, Part L, where these 
benefits are duly classified and set forth, or the resume 
of them that immediately follows these remarks, and deny 
that there is abundant evidence (if true) to warrant 
such an interference and to demand such an official 
authorization? We think not. 

There are scores of acts on the statute-book of this 
great kingdom legislating on matters of the most trivial 
kind as and when compared with the vast importance and 
boundless extent of Ambidextral Education. Indeed 
we are strongly of opinion that there are few subjects 
dealt with by our two houses of Parliament, year by year, 
having greater or even equal claims to the attention of 
the country, and the legislative action of those august 

At the risk of being tedious, let us briefly recapitulate 



the solid benefits that would be secured by the adoption 
of a universal and perfect Ambidexterity ; an Ambidex- 
terity that would render both hands as naturally and 
mutually expert in every conceivable occupation as 
Paderewski's hands are on the piano, or as the hands of 
every person are in the simple and instinctive acts of 
opening, closing, or holding. 

1. There would be an almost complete immunity from 
the disease of Aphasia, and from the various hand cramps, 
or palsies, that afflict so many thousands. 

2. There would be a gratifying diminution in pul- 
monary and chest diseases. 

3. The brain speech area would be doubled, and both 
lobes would be symmetrically organized, thus involving 
increased force and intellectuality. 

4. The physique and the entire being of the individual 
would be greatly quickened and improved. 

5. The right hand would attain a higher proficiency 
and dexterity than it has ever reached, or could ever 
reach, by separate cultivation. 

6. All handicrafts (from 600 to 1,000) would be stimu- 
lated and benefited. 

7. All games and recreations would reap a material 

8. School work would be rendered easier for both 
teacher and scholar ; and the school course would be 
made shorter. 

g. Simultaneous two-handed labour would be made 
possible, much more effective than it is at present, and 
profitable, in certain specified and limited conditions. 

10. The efficiency of the army and navy would be 
greatly increased. 

Now of these ten compound blessings the first four are 
vouched for by medical authorities, against whose pro- 
nouncements there cannot possibly be any appeal — at 
any rate by laymen who are wholly incompetent to 
criticize or controvert them. 


The 5th and 8th are attested by Professor Tadd, who 
speaks from an experience of twelve to fourteen years, 
and from observation of the effects of Ambidextral instruc- 
tion (in a limited degree, be it noted) on thousands of 
pupils, and also by scores of primary and secondary 
teachers in this country. 

The 6th and 7th are so obvious to every one, that any 
challenge or denial is out of the question. 

The gth is an integral part of the system, quite in- 
separable therefrom. And 

The loth has the assent of naval and military officers 
and the support of every intelligent person. 

Therefore we may accept as satisfactorily established 
every and all these claims to superiority that are put 
forward on behalf of the innovation we advocate ; and in 
the face of it all, we again ask, with the fullest confidence 
in our case, is it not strong enough to warrant the Legis- 
lature taking prompt and active steps to make bimanual 
training thorough, universal, and compulsory in every 
elementary school and in every secondary institution 
throughout the length and breadth of this great 
Empire ? 

It is by no means a small consolation to know that the 
outworks of professional opposition have already been 
carried and are in our possession ; for in addition to the 
medical opinions previously quoted, we have equally 
favourable expressions from some of the foremost educa- 
tionalists of the time. A typical selection is appended. 

In addition to these. Professor Dr. Cummings, Miss 
F. Gadesden, A. T. Pollard, Esq., M.A., W. G. Rush- 
brooke, Esq., M.L., James Welton, Esq., M.A. — all 
widely known authorities — are cordially disposed towards 
and approve the New Education. Last, but by no means 
least, Baden-Powell is a celebrated Ambidexter, and has 
been so from his youth up ; along with whom there are 
many other notables in art, science and literature, who 
practise the accomplishment in their private life. 



"We feel sure that it only requires the British people 
and the British Parliament to be made acquainted with 
the facts as they stand, and Ambidextral Education will 
become a constitutional enactment, and a constitutional 
entity, without difiiculty or delay. 

That this consummation may be speedily realized is 
the earnest hope of the author. 



It will interest the reader to learn that a Society has 
recently been formed for the promotion of this Educa- 
tional Reform and Two-handed Training, and that its 
principles and efforts have met with a most cordial recep- 
tion from all classes of the community and from all 
sections of the Press. In order that the representative 
character of its membership may be seen, the names of 
its Executive are here subjoined, whilst appended thereto 
is a selection of typical opinions from those who are in 
sympathy with its object. 

If the writer of the preceding pages can only live to see 
the inclusion of Ambidextral Culture as a living and 
dominant factor in the national life, and thus witness the 
realization of this his supreme desire and ambition for the 
welfare and improvement of his fellows, he will gladly 
sing his Nunc Dimittis and retire from the arena of active 
service with a contented mind. 


President : 
E. Noble Smith, F.R.C.S. Edin. 

Vice-Presidents : 
Major-General R. S. S. Baden-Powell, C.B. 
W. H. Cummings, Mus.Doc, F.S.A. 
Sir James Sawyer, M.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.S.E., F.S.A., J.P. 

Hon. Sec : John Jackson, F.E.I. S. 
Secretary : J . Alf. Jackson 




Professor R. J, Anderson, M.A., 

M.D., M.R.C.S., F.L.S., J.P. 
Miss E. Armstrong 
Rev. H, J. Dukinfield-Astley, 

M.A., LittD., F.R.Hist.S., 

Rev. James Beeby 
Miss A. Blagrave, B.A, 
Charles Bright, C.E., F.R.S.E. 
Mrs. Burnett-Smith (Annie S. 


Walter J. Coles, A.I.E.E. 

Walter Crane, A.R.W.S. 

L. Eliot Creasy, M.R.C.S. Eng., 

L.R.C.P. Lond. 
J. Spencer Curwen 
Rev. W. H. Dallinger, D.Sc, 

D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S. 
Lady Florence Dixie 
Captain W. Edgevvorth-John- 


Professor J. Cossar Ewart, M.D., 
F.R.C.S. Edin., F.R.S., &c. 

F. J. Furnivall, M.A., Ph.D., 

Hon. Mrs. Gordon 

Professor R. A. Gregory, F.R.A.S. 

Miss L. E. Haigh 

G. C. Haite', F.L.S., R.B.A., R.I. 
Miss Hale 

T. E. Haydon, M.A. 
C. Stork Holdsworth 

Eben Jackson 

F. Hamilton Jackson, R.B.A. 

J. E. Jacobs, R.B.A. 

Miss M. C. N. Janotha 

Mrs. James Judd 

W. Lang, F.R.C.S. 

Professor W. C. Mcintosh, M.D., 

LL.D., F.R.S., F.R.S.E. 
Miss Margaret McMillan 
R. B. Marston 
Miss A. E. Metcalfe, B.Sc. 
Eustace Miles, M.A. 
Professor R. G. Moulton, M.A., 

Perceval A. Nairne 
Sir W. Blake Richmond, K.C.B., 

M.A., R.A., D.C.L., F.S.A. 
Rev. A. E. Ruble, M.A. 
W. G. Rushbrooke, M.L. 
E. Sharwood- Smith, M.A. 
James Shaw, M.D. 
Heywood Smith, M.A., M.D. 
Simeon Snell, F.R.C.S. Edin., 


Miss Florence Stacpoole 

Arthur A. Sykes 

C. E. Tritton, M.P. 

Miss M. S. Walker, B.A. 

Professor J. Welton, M.A. 

Miss A. Werner 

R. Wormell, D.Sc, M.A. 

It is with much pleasure that I produce more at length 
the views of Dr. C. E. Brown-Sequard, whose name is 
familiar in connection with Brain Literature. In a power- 
ful paper (" Forum," August, iSgo) the object of which is 
to substantiate Dr. Wigan's Original Theory, he has the 
following paragraphs : — 

" Each half of the brain is capable of originating all the 
voluntary movements of both sides of the body, and pos- 
sesses the powers of perception of the various sensitive im- 


pressions that may proceed from the whole body ; so that, 
in the same manner that we have two eyes, two ears, etc., 
we also have two great nerve centres, each of which is 
capable of performing in its full extent every physical cere- 
bral function. ... In a Paper I read at the Meeting of 
the British Medical Association at Cambridge, England, 
1880, I gave a number of conclusions drawn from more 
than 500 cases of unilateral convulsions due to brain dis- 
ease, showing how various these cases were as regards the 
seat of the lesion which caused these manifestations, the 
muscles attacked and the connection of this symptom 
with paralysis and other phenomena. Among other things 
I showed, (i) that convulsions can appear on the hemi- 
plegic side or on the other, whatever be the seat of the 
lesion ; (2) that if unilateral convulsions from disease of 
the side of the surface of the brain appear far more fre- 
quently on the opposite side of the body, they occur, on 
the contrary, more often on the corresponding side of the 
body when they are caused by disease of the base of the 
brain. It is clear from these general data and from many 
others that convulsions cannot be considered as support- 
ing the view that each cerebral hemisphere contains the 
only centres and conductors for the voluntary movements 
in the opposite side of the body. The most decisive argu- 
ment against the view that we have but one brain for 
voluntary movements, comes from cases of destruction, in 
men as well as animals, of some part of the supposed mo- 
tor centres or conductors or of almost the whole, and even 
the whole of a hemisphere without paralysis. ... As 
regards men, facts abound showing that destruction of 
every individual part of the hemisphere can take place 
without the disappearance of the voluntary motor func- 
tions. Leaving aside cases of tumours and abscesses, there 
are on record to my knowledge, more than fifty well- 
authenticated cases of considerable lesion or complete 
destruction of the so-called psycho-motor centres on one 
side, without paralysis. . . . 

" Arguments similar to those concerning the voluntary 



movement exist also as regards the transmission and the 
perception of sensitive impressions. They give forcible 
proofs that one cerebral hemisphere may be quite sufficient 
for the perception of all the impressions coming from the 
various parts of the two sides of the body. 

" One of the strongest arguments against the received 
views and in support of the idea that one side of the 
encephalon is quite sufficient for the transmission and per- 
ception of the sensitive impressions coming from the two 
halves of the body, is that sensibility can persist entire, 
notwithstanding the destruction of ANY PART of one 
half of the Brain." 
I He concludes as follows : — 

"That we have more brain matter than is needed, is 
clearly proved by the facts and reasonings contained in 
this paper. This is also shown by a great many cases in 
which considerable destruction of cerebral tissue, on the 
two sides, has occurred without any loss to either the phy- 
sical or the mental functions of the brain. Not only can 
half of the encephalon carry on all the functions known io 
belong to the whole brain, but there are cases of almost 
complete destruction of one side and also of a part of the 
other side of the brain, without either an alteration of the 
mental powers or the loss of the physical faculties of the 
great nerve centre." 

" In connection with the subject of the duality of the 
brain, there is one point of great importance about which 
I can only say a few words. It is that we have a great 
many motor elements in our brain and our spinal cord 
which we neglect absolutely to educate. Such is the 



" Wishing you all success in your crusade on behalf of the neglected 
left hand."— The Rev. H. J. Dukinfield Astley, M.A., F.R.HistS., 

"The utility of teaching Ambidexterity goes without saying." — 
Lord Charles Seresford. 

" I certainly think it would be advantageous for children to use 
both hands alike." — Miss A. Blagrave, B.A., City of London School 
for Girls. 

" I am very much in favour of encouraging the use of the left hand 
for independent action." — Surgeon-General A. Frederick Brad- 
shaw, C.B., &c., Hon. Physician to the King, Oxford. 

" All those conditions which your Society proposes are recognized 
by every genuine association for the promotion of true education." — 
Mrs. S. Bryant, D.Sc, North London Collegiate School for Girls. 

" iVIuch more could be made of the left side by careful education, 
and in this I am in full sympathy with the efforts of your Society." — 
D. J. Cunningham, M.D., D.Sc, D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S. 

"To be equally expert with either hand is more than a convenience 
and useful accomplishment, it is a valuable commercial asset, and an 
insurance against accidents." — Captain W. Edgeworth- John stone, 
Royal Irish Regiment. 

" I believe in Ambidexterity firmly, for physiological, psychological, 
economic, and educational purposes." — Miss E, P. Hughes, late 
Camb. Day Training College. 

" Has always thought that it would be a good thing if children could 
be taught to use both hands much more freely than they do now." — 
The Countess of Jersey. 

" I quite approve of the principles of your movement."— Rev. the 
Hon. Canon Lyttelton, M.A., Haileybury. 

" I think the idea an admirable one, and it has my hearty sympathy." 
—Sir W. Blake Richmond, K.C.B., M.A., R.A., F.S.A., D.C.L., 

" I cordially approve of the system."— Professor Ebenezer Prout, 
Mus. Doc. 



" I sympathize with your desire to promote Ambidextral Culture." 
—Sir W. H. White, K.C.B., F.R.S., LLD., D.Sc. 

" I heartily approve of all your theories and movements in regard 
to writing."— Richard Wormell, Esq., D.Sc, M.A. 

" It is not difficult to imagine circumstances under which the 
possession of symmetrically developed powers of brain and body 
might be of the greatest possible value. "We feel sure that the 
general adoption of ambidextrous training would be of unmixed 
benefit to the community."— " The Hospital." 

" Granting that the teaching of Ambidexterity is necessary to 
counteract, or, rather, to prevent, the assumption of bad postures, it 
follows, as a matter of course, that such teaching should immediately 
be made compulsory in all schools ; and, even if not absolutely 
necessar)', still there is little doubt but that such training as that 
advocated by the Ambidextral Culture Society would be productive of 
much real good, both physical and mental." — "Teachers' Times." 

" That the two hands of the child should receive equal training need 
not be repeated to teachers. . . . The great convenience of being able 
to use the left hand with equal readiness will strike us all, and the 
only wonder is we have never seriously considered the question 
before." — *' Schoolmaster." 


Adams, Mr. W., on the evils of 

Sloping Writing, 215 
Adcock, Sir H., on Ambidexterity of 

Persians, 114 
Advantages of Ambidexterity, 120, 244 

of Vertical Writing, 222 
Advisability of Legislation, 243 
African Tribes, Ambidexterity of, 54 
Agraphia, 124 

Aime Pere and Hereditary Left-handed- 
ness, 55 
Transposed Viscera, 7 1 
Alcock, Sir Rutherford, on Japanese 

Art and Handicrafts, 145 
"All the Year Round," A writer in, 


Alternations of Volitions, 172 
Ambidexterity, and Customs of Society, 

in the Semces, 137 

Possibility of, 108 
Ambidextral Culture, 98, 1 95 

its Objects, 139 

in School, 199 

in the Nursery, 197 

Society, 120, 247 

Drawing, 226 

Handwriting, 138, 206 

Instruction, its outcome, 225 
Anatomy, Journal of, re Monkeys, 27 
Animal One-sidedness, 25 et seq. 
Animals and Birds at the Zoo, 25, 

right-lying, 29, 31 
Aorta Arches, Arrangement of, 72 

Reversal of, 78 
Aphasia, 122 

Approving Authorities in Education, 
247 et seq. 

Aristotle, on "Organic Structure," 

&c., I, 63 
Arm Lengths in the Human Body, 23 
Arrangement of Blood Vessels, Dr. 

Barclay on, 73 
Aspertino, Amico, an Ambidexter, 115 

Astley, The Rev. H. J. D., M.A., 
Litt.D., on Ambidexterity and 
Primitive Man, 12 

Asymmetry and Gae-sidedness, 20 
in Fish, 25 

Automaticism in Writing and Draw- 
ing, 231 

" Awkward Hand," The, 95 

Baden-Powell, Major-Gen., R.S.S., 
an Ambidexter, 114, 245 
on the advantages of Ambidex- 
terity, 137 
Baer, Dr. von, his theory, 68 
Baldwin, Dr. J. M., Experiments by, 
80 et seq. 
on Infantile Right-handedness, 44 
Ball, Prof., on Right-handed Pre- 
eminence, 5 
Barclay, Dr., His Theory, 73 

on Arrangement of Blood Ves- 
sels, 73 
on Brain One-sidedness, 78 
Barwell, Mr. R., on Sloping Writing, 215 
Bastian, H. Charlton, M.D., on 
Brain Lobes, 95 
on Ambidexterity, 135 
Bell, Sir Charles, on Brain One-sided- 
ness, 79 
on "The Hand," 5 
opinions of, 231 
on Right-handedness, 64 
Benjamites, The, Left-handed slingers 

in the army of, I 
Beyr, Dr., on Speed in Vertical 

Writing, 220 
Bible and Right-handedness, 15 

First mention of Right and Left 

Hands, 13 
Quotations re " The Right Hand," 

Bimanual Education, 195, 225 
Birds and animals in the Zoo, 25, 28 
Blackboard Free-arm Work, 203, 231 
Blood Vessels, Arrangement of, 73 



Boer War and Two-handedness, 105 
" Book of Kells," 15 
Boiham, Mr., on " Sporadic Right- 
handedness," 45, 47 
Boyd, Dr., on Brain One-sidedness, 75 
Bradshaw, Surgeon-General, on Ad- 
vantages of Ambidexterity, 135 
on left-handedness, 10 
Brain Convolutions, 75, 94 
One-sidedness, 73 
Structure, 93 
Brain-Weight, 76, 94 
Braune on Brain-Weight, 76, 94 
Brazilian Ladies mounting on the 

left side, 9 
Broadbent, Dr., on Brain Convolu- 
tions, 75 

Broadhurst, Mr. B. E., on Sloping 

Writing, 216 
Brodie, Sir B., on Original Instinct, 63 
Brown, Sir Thomas, on Dextral Pre- 
eminence, 47 
Brown-Sequard, Dr. C. E., on Ambi- 
dexterity, 248 
Buchanan, Dr. , his Mechanical Theory, 
58, 59, 60 
His Theory of Left-handedness, 60 
advises Two-handed development, 

enunciates Dr. Barclay's Theory, 

Cahall, Dr., on Brain One-sidedness, 

on Hand Development, 103 
Calligraphic advantages of Ambidex- 
terity, 135 
Campbell, Dr. F. J., on Ambidextral 

Culture, 13s 
Cangiagio an Ambidexter, 115 
Carter, Dr. E. C, and Transposed 

Viscera, 71 
Carter, Mr. R. B., on Right-handed- 
ness, 46 

Cases ol Transverse Visceral Distribu- 
tion, 39 

Cave-men's Drawings, 13 

Cheadle, Dr., and Transposed Viscera, 

Cinquevalli, Paul, on Ambidextral 
Culture, 192 
his Powers of Multiplex Action, 

Civilization and Right-handedness, 17 
Clarke, Mr. J. J., on Posture in Sloping 

Writing, 214 
Cleverest Pupils and Right-handedness, 


Coaita and prehensile movements, 67 
Colin, Dr. H., on Vertical Writing, 216 
Collateral Advantages of Ambidex- 
terity, 137 
Colvin, Sidney, in " Enc. Brit.," 115 
Competitions in Two-handed Writing, 

Concurrent Movements in Weaving, 

and Processes in Organ-playing, 

in Hand-loom Weaving, 185 
letter writing, 193 
Congress of Hygiene and Demography, 

on Vertical Writing, 218 
Connection between Brain and Hand, 

"Comhill," Writer in, on Right- 
handedness, 49, 54 
Culture, Ambidextral, 98, 195 
Cunningham, Dr., on One-handedness, 

on Development of Right Arm, 59 
on Transposed Viscera, 71 
on One-sidedness in Apes, 72 
ou Brain One-sidedness, 76 
on Brain- Weight, 77 
his Argument, 85 
Curriers, Testimony of, 38 

Dallinger, Dr., Ambidextrous, 135 

Darwin and Natural Selection, 90 

Dextral Pre-eminence, 13, 41 

Dextrocerebral Atrophy, 106 

Difference of Asymmetry and One- 
sidedness, 39 

Disadvantages of One-handedness, 99 

Donaldson, Dr., " The Growth of the 
Brain," 76, 83 

Drawing, Ambidextral, 117, 226 

Drawings by Cave-men, 13 

Drill forms, 231 

Dwight, Dr. T., on Asymmetry and 
One-sidedness, 21, 24 
on Impulse and Instinct, 64 
on Arm Lengths, 24 
on ' ' Primitive Warfare " Theory, 

and the Hypothetical Donkey, 64 

Economical Advantages of Ambi- 
dexterity, 136 

Economy in Writing, 221 

Edgeworth-Johnston, Captain, on 
Two-handedness, 91 

" Edinburgh Medical Journal," Sir John 
Struthers in, 30 



Education and Right-handedness, 49 

Bimanual, 195 
Eolithic Man and Ambidexterity, 1 2 
Equality of Left Hand, 4S 
Erlenmeyer, Dr., on Hebrew Ambi- 
dexterity, 207 
Eulenberg, Dr., on Sloping Writing, 


Evidence of Tanners and Curriers, 38 
Eyes, Writing in relation to, 216 

Ferrier, Dr., "The Functions of the 

Brain," 82 
Finger-tip Marks, Comparison of, 21 
First mention of Right and Left Hands 

in Bible, 13 
Fish, Asymmetry in, 25 
Forster and Visceral Distribution, 6S 
Franchesci, Dr., weight of brain, 77 
F.R.C.S., on Hereditary Left-handed- 

ness, 56 
Freak of Nature, A, 97 
Free-arm Blackboard Work, 203, 231 
Functional Impotencies, loi 
Unity, 186 

Gachet, Dr., and Transposed Vis- 
cera, 70 

Garson, Mr. J. G., on Bone Lengths 

in Human Body, 23 
General Class Work in Ambidex- 
terity, 203 
Gery, Dr., and Transposed Viscera, 70 
Glacial Period and Eolithic Race, 12 
Gouber, Dr., on Vertical Writing, 215 
Gould, Dr., on Objections to Ambi- 
dexterity, 165 
Impossibility of Ambidexterity, 

his Argument against possibility 
of Ambidexterity, 109 
Gowers, Sir W. R., on Advantages of 
Ambidexterity, 135 

Aphasia, 120 

Brain One-sidedness, 79 

Possibility of Two-handedness, 123 

Ambidextral Writing, 117 

and Transposed Viscera, 71 

Writer's Cramp, 124 
Grooved Tablets for Writing, 224 
Gross, Dr., on Sloping Writing, 215 

Hadden, Dr., on Hereditary Left- 
handedness, 56 
Remarkable Case by, 71 
Hand Culture and the Feeble-minded, 
Memory, 132 

Hand Development, 6 
Handicrafts and Two-handedness, 235 
Handwriting and Ambidexterity, 117, 

Ambidextral, 206 

Harrison, Mr., on " Plateau Imple- 
ments," 12 

Hebrew Ambidexterity, 207 

Hereditary Transmission of Left-hand- 
edness, 55 

Heron, Dr., and Transposed Viscera, 

Hides, Difference in thickness in the 

sides of, 35-38 
History, Argument from, 143, 145 

Highest Developments and Right- 
handedness, 161 
Hitchcock, Dr., on Arm Lengths, 24 

Strengths, 24 
Hodgson, Mr., H.M.I. , on Vertical 

Writing, 219 
Holbein, Hans, an Ambidexter, 115 
Hollis, Dr., on Advantages of Ambi- 
dexterity, 126, 140 
Animal One-sidedness, 71 
Hand Culture, 103 
Lop-sided Generations, 27 
Writer's Cramp, 103 
Home Training of the Two Hands, 

Honours in Left-hand Drawing, 117 
Human Body, Arm Lengths in, 23 
Humphrey, Dr., on Animal One-sided- 
ness, 27 

The Human Foot and Hand, 48 
Hygiene and Demography, Ninth Con- 
gress of, 218 
Hyrtl, Dr., on Arrangement of Blood- 
vessels, 72 

Ightham, Plateau and ancient im- 
plements, 12 

Imbecility and Two-handed Culture, 

Importance of Writing, 207 

Impotencies, Functional, loi 

Infantile Right-handedness, Dr. Bald- 
win on, 44 

Infant School, Training in Ambidex- 
terity, 200 

Instinct and Right-handedness, 64 

Instruction, Ambidextral, 195 et seq. 

Japanese Handicrafts and Ambidex- 
terity, 145 

Johnson, Dr., Definition of Ambidex- 
terity, 120 



Journal of the Anthropological In- 
stitute, 56 

Journal of the British Archreological 
Association, 12 

Justifiable Legislation, 243 

Justin, on Scythian Valour, 143 

" Kklls, Book of," 15 

"Lancet," on Ambidexterity and 

Writer's Cramp, 124 
Lanf'seer, Sir E., an Ambidexter, 114 
his facility in Painting, 173 
his Simultaneous Ambidextral 
Draughtmanship, 174 
Lees, Dr., and Transposed Viscera, 70 
Left Hand, present condition of, 7 
suppression of, 7) I97 
use of. at the present day, 10 
Left-hand Drawing, Honours in, 117 
Left-handedness, Explanation of, by 
Dr. Buchanan, 60 
in primitive man, 1 1 
is Hereditary, Dr. Lundie, 55 
Legibility, Writing in relation to, 218 
Legislation, Advisability of, 243 
Leonardo da Vinci an Ambidexter, 

Lewis, Dr. Percy S., 2i6 
Liebrich, Mr. R., on Sloping Writing, 

List of Trades and Occupations, 239 
Lithgow, Dr., on advantages of Ambi- 
dexterity, ii\o 
On Hereditary Left-handedness, 

London Exhibition of Japanese Art, 

" Lop-sided Generations, by Dr. 

Hollis, 27 
Lorenz, Professor Dr., on Vertical 

Writing, 215 
Lundie, Dr , on Advantages of Ambi- 
dexterity, 140 
Hereditary Instinct, 55 
The Sinistral Hand, 100 

Man not symmetrically formed, 20 

Maudsley, Mr., on Brain Development 
and action, 230 

Mechanical Advantages of Ambidex- 
terity, 122 

Mechanical "Theory" of Right-hand- 
edness 58 

Medical Advantages of Ambidexterity, 

Meissonier on Drawing, 230 
Memory Drawing, 233 

Mexican Picture Writings, 1 1 

Miscellaneous Advantages of Ambi- 
dexterity, 137 

Monkeys, Right-handedness of, 25 

Moral Advantages of Two-handed 
Training, 129 

Morse, Professor E., on Advantages of 
Ambidexterity. 135 

Morse, Professor H. N. , an Ambi- 
dexter, 113 

Mozzo, of Antwerp, an Ambidexter, 

" Natural Endowment," A, 63 
"Natural Selection," Theory of Right- 
handedness, 84 
Nelson, Lord, his Left-hand Writing, 

Neolithic Man and Ambidexterity, 12 
Nursing a Cause of Right-handedness, 

Object of this Manual, 3 
Objections to Ambidexterity, 150 
Objections to Simultaneous Work, 180 
Objects of Ambidextral Culture, 139 

Occupations, List of, 239 
Ogle, Dr., on Brain One-sidedness, 73 
Hereditary Left-handedness, 56, 

Left-hand Writing, 104 
Right-handedness or -sidedness of 
Monkeys and Parrots, 25 
One-handedness, a " Freak of Nature," 
97, 98 

One-handedness, Inquiry into, 43 

Theories of, 43 
One-handedness, Universality of, 9, 41, 

One-handed Training in Schools, 196 
One-sidedness and Asymmetry, 20 
Organic Structure, Aristotle on, 63 
Original Instinct and Right-handed- 
ness, 63 

Outcome of Ambidextral Teaching, 

Ox-hides, Thickness of, 37 

Paget, Sir James, and Piano-playing, 

Paleolithic Man and Ambidexterity, 12 
Palmerston, Lord, on Writing, 207 
Parrots, One-sidedness of, 25 
Physiological Advantages of Ambi- 
dexterity, 122 
Picture Writing by Mexicans, 1 1 
Plate River, Hides from, 38 



Plato, his opinion of Right-handedness, 

44. 141 
Pliny, on the Scythians, 144 
Poore, Dr. G. V., on the act of 
Writing, 208 
on Functional Impotencies, lOi 
on Writer's Cramp, 125 
" Popular Science Monthly," Dr. Cahall 
in, 74 

Dr. Gould in, 108 et seq., 165 et 

Position of Heart, 50, 51. 
Positive Physiological Advantages, 127 
Possibility of Simultaneous Work, 172 
Posture in Sloping Writing, 216 
Pre-eminence of Right Hand, 5 et seq. 
Preventive Physiological Advantages, 

Primitive Warfare and Right-handed- 
ness, 49 

Proportion of Right-handed Persons, 9 
right-handed and left-handed 

persons, 9 
two-handed persons, 9 
Proposed solution of right- and left- 

handedness, 97, 
Psychological effects of Ambidexterity, 

Pye-Smith, Dr., on Primitive Warfare, 

and Transposed Viscera, 70, 71 

Quick, Mr., on Plateau Implements, 

Quotations, Biblical, on the right hand, 

Reade, Ch., on Advantages of Ambi- 
dexterity, 140 

Reed, T. A., on Speed in Writing, 

Reports from Headmasters re Right- 
handedness, 17 

Responsiveness of Left Hand, 10, 19, 
4^^. 53. 92. 109, III, 113 et seq., 128, 
148, 160 et seq., 167 et seq., 174 et 
seq., 224, 234 

Resume of Advantages of Ambidex- 
terity, 244 

Reuss, Dr. A. von, on Vertical Writing, 

Reversal of Aorta Arches, 78 
Richardson, Dr. W. B., on Sloping 

Writing, 217 
Right Hand, Pre-eminence of, 5 et seq. 
Right-handedness, What is it ? 41 
and the Bible, 13 
the result of Nursing, &c., 44 

Right-handedness the result of practice 
in writing and drawing, 46 
" an acquired habit," 47 
a Mechanical Result, 58 
Result of Organic Structure, 62 
an Hereditary Instinct (Impulse), 

from Primitive Warfare, &c., 49 
a Natural Endowment, 63 
from Visceral Distribution, 68 
from Blood-vessel arrangement, 72 
from Brain One-sidedness, 73 

Right-handedness and Left-handed- 
ness, 84 
Natural Selection, 84 
What it really is, 97 

Right lying of Animals, 29, 31 
Cases of, 34, 35 

Rollet, Dr., on Arm Lengths, 24 

Roth, Dr. M., on Sloping Writing, 

Roth, Mr. B., on Sloping Writing, 214 

Sawyer, Sir James, on Advantages of 
Ambidexterity, 139 
Ambidexterity, 50 
Position of heart, 50 
Visceral Distribution, 68 
Sinistral Writing, 118 
Schenk, Dr., on Sloping Writing, 215 
School Inspector on Ambidextrous 

Culture, 150 
School-training in Ambidexterity, 199 
et seq. 

Schultze, Dr., and Transposed Viscera, 

Scythians an Ambidextrous Nation, 143 
Seguin, Dr., on liand Culture, 129, 

Seidl, Miss, on Writing Speeds, 220 
Shah of Persia an Ambidexter, 115 
Shaw, Dr. James., on Advantages of 
Ambidexterity, 126 
on Right-handedness from Teach- 
ing, 49 
Visceral Distribution, 71 
Writer's Cramp, 126 
Shaw, Mr. J., objects to Ambidexterity, 

on Brain One-sidedness, 74 
on Visceral Inequality, 69 
Ship Porters and Lef t-handedness, 62 
Side, Disease of, in man, 86, loi, 107 
Simpson, Mr. W. J., on Leg Lengths, 

Simultaneous Movement, 170 
Simultaneous Two-handed Writing, 177 
Work, 142 




Simultaneous Work and Brain Injury, 

and Concentration, 182 

and Mediocrity, 180 

on the Violin, 176 
Sinistral Hand, The, ril 
Sinistrality equal to Dextrality, in 
Skeleton, Human, Lengths of Bones, 

23 dt seq. 
Slingers, The 700 Benjamite, i 
Sloping Writing, Injurious effects of, 

Smith, Mr. Noble, on Ambidexterity, 

on Sloping Writing, 213 
Snell, Mr. S., on Ambidexterity, 135 

an Ambidexter, 1 14 

on Vertical Writing. 216 
Specimens of Two-handed Concurrent 

Work, 179 
Speech Centres in Brain, 79, 122, 123 
Speed in Vertical Writing, 219 
Spencer, Herbert, and Evolution, 91 
Spine, Writing in relation to, 213 et seq. 
Sporadic Right-handedness, 57 
Stanley, Sir H. M., on African Tribes, 

Stephens, Mr. Fred. G., on Landseer's 

Concurrent Drawing, 173 
Struthers, Sir J., on Hide Thicknesses, 

Right-handedness, 63 
Visceral Distribution, 69 
Supports Mr. Shaw, 72 

Tablets, Grooved, 224 

Tadd, Professor, on Automaticism, 23 1 

His Art School, 128 

His Testimony re Ambidexterity, 

on Ambidextral Training, 157 
on Ambidextral Drawing, 227 
Tanners, Evidence of, 36, 37, 38 
Taylor, Dr. Seymour, and Transposed 

Viscera, 70 
Theories of Right-handedness, 41 
Thurnam, Dr., on brain-weight, 76 
Tooke, Home, and his definition, 104 
Trades, List of, 239 
Transposition of Viscera, 39 
Tubby, Mr. A. H., on Sloping Writing, 


Two-handed Writing, 206 et seq. 
Two-handedness and the Boer War, 10$ 

in Trades, 235 
Two-handedness, The True Theory of, 

Two Hundred Volitions per Second, 177 

Two-sidedness in Animals, 159 
Typical Opinions, 251 

Ultimatum re One-handedness, 97 
Universal Two-handedness, 237 
Universality of Right-handedness, 5 

Vertical Writing, Dr. G. V. Poore 
on, 125 

Advantages of, 222 

and Two-handedness, 212 
Viscera, Transposition of, 39 

Weights of, 69 
Visceral Distribution in Man, 68 

in Animals, 71 

Wagner, Dr., on Brain One-sided- 
ness, 75 

Wharton, Mr., on Ambidexterity, 104 
Wigan, Dr., on Cerebral Destruction, 

on Feeble Intellect and Hand 
Development, 130 
Wilson, Sir Daniel, an Ambidexter, 

on Anatomical Development, 148, 

on Left-handed Children, 53 
on Right-handedness, 50 
on Two-handed Culture, 119 
on Blooo vessel Arrangement, 73 
on the Hand, 5 

replies to Professor Buchanan, 61 
on Hereditary Left-handedness, 56 
on Organic Structure and Right- 
handedness, 63 
Women, Ambidextral Superiority of, 

Students at the Universities, 191 
Women and Right-handedness, 53 
Writer's Cramp, loi 
Writing, Left-hand Competitions in, 

Writing and Drawing and Right- 
handedness. 46 
Writing in relation to Economy, 221 

General Health, 217 

Legibility, 2i8 

Speed. 219 

Teaching and Learning, 220 
the Eyes, 216 
the Spine, 213 
Wyeth, Dr., on Advantages of Ambi- 
dexterity, 139 
Anatomical Development, 63 

Zoological Gardens, Animals and 
Birds in, 25, 28, 29 



ST. John's house, clerkbnwell, e.c.